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"It's not rocket science"

With More Spays and Neuters, Fewer Animals Die and Communities Save Money

Cat and dog overpopulation is at a crisis level in New Mexico. Uncontrolled breeding of cats and dogs-including those who are stray, abandoned and even those with homes-has created this serious and costly epidemic.

New Mexico's public and private animal shelters receive more than 135,000 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens every year. Of those, over 65,000 are euthanized because there are no homes for them. An extensive survey of New Mexico's animal shelters http:// conducted by APNM in 2007 and again in 2012 clearly shows that despite the dedicated efforts of low-cost spay/neuter programs throughout many parts of New Mexico, current efforts are not enough.

While the overpopulation problem may not be getting worse, the bad news is it isn't getting any better. The overall number of animals euthanized remained essentially the same between 2007 and 2012

In order to see a dramatic decrease in the numbers of animals euthanized for lack of a home, much more needs to be done.

New Mexico needs a consistent, concentrated, statewide approach if our state ever hopes to get ahead of this problem that costs communities millions of dollars every year and results in the tragic deaths of tens of thousands of healthy dogs and cats.

During the 2015 New Mexico legislative session, APNM and APV will be working hard to secure substantial funds for more accessible and affordable spay/neuter services for animals. Based on case studies in other states, a significant reduction in the numbers of cats and dogs entering shelters will occur following a consistent, adequately funded effort over as few as five years.

When fewer animals enter shelters, the related fiscal burden on local governments will also decrease, freeing up money for other community needs.

According to a well-known 1990 study conducted by the Minnesota Legislature

(and CPI-adjusted for 2014), each dollar invested in low-cost spay/neuter means savings to communities of approximately $35.32 in future animal control costs over a ten-year period. Even five years of investment makes a significant difference.

The health, safety and general welfare of the animals and residents of New Mexico are better served by having affordable spay/neuter services widely available. The monetary and human cost of dealing with New Mexico's dog and cat overpopulation crisis is staggering. Because of it, our communities must contend with:

  • the cost of receiving or capturing, housing, and eventually euthanizing over 65,000 dogs and cats every year
  • the toll on compassionate shelter employees who have to euthanize those animals
  • animal bite injuries and fatalities
  • property damage from stray animals
  • enormous animal suffering when unwanted animals live without adequate food, water, and shelter; and
  • the cost of investigating animal cruelty cases that stem from a throwaway attitude about animals

Past Spay/Neuter Funds Appropriated by the New Mexico Legislature:

2006: $400,000 for low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter surgeries in 16 communities provided surgeries to 2,239 dogs and cats of income-qualified households. Almost 50% of the surgeries were performed in communities other than Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. Mobile services accounted for more than 1/3 of the surgeries.

2014: $100,000 for low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, for disbursement and oversight by New Mexico's Animal Sheltering Board: $30,000 from the state's spay/neuter license plate was made available to 44 local programs in 28 counties, plus $70,000 to be distributed at the board's discretion.

To achieve the greatest impact, the Animal Sheltering Board decided to disburse the $70,000 within 9 communities whose public shelters have the highest intake and highest euthanasia rates in New Mexico: Portales, Clovis, Roswell, Farmington, Hobbs, Valencia County, Gallup, Carlsbad, and Dona Ana County. Sixteen low-cost spay/neuter programs will soon receive shares of the funding so desperately needed to curb rampant cat and dog overpopulation.

For example, seven programs in Dona Ana County will receive $2,350, a total investment of $16,450. Two programs in Roswell will split a total amount of $9,870 to target the crisis in Chaves County. Two programs in Farmington will share an award of $12,390.

It's a start, but we must do more. What will 2015 bring?

The New Mexico Animal Sheltering Board must be given the tools it needs to focus intensely and consistently on its vital mission of creating and helping communities implement affordable and accessible spay/neuter services throughout the state. Proven solutions to the tragic and costly problem of cat and dog overpopulation are well within reach. With continued leadership and commitment at the state level, New Mexico's communities can successfully save lives, save money, and ensure a better future for generations to come.


(Reprinted with the permission of Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) from their Winter Publication - 2014)




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