December 5, 2008
RECENT SPAY AND NEUTER LEGISLATION
By: Paul Frisman, Principal Analyst
You asked about Connecticut's animal population control program and recent legislation concerning spaying and neutering of pets. We reviewed legislation from the past five years.
The agriculture department oversees the state's Animal Population Control Program, which helps pay for the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats adopted from local pounds. According to the department's web site, the program has helped underwrite the sterilization of more than 50,000 dogs and cats since its inception in 1995.
We found nine bills suggesting changes in the spaying or neutering of dogs and cats since 2003. The General Assembly approved five of these (four public acts and one special act). We briefly describe the acts and the four unsuccessful legislative proposals below.
ANIMAL POPULATION CONTROL PROGRAM
The General Assembly created the Animal Population Control Program (APCP) in 1992 (PA 92-187) to help pay for the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats adopted from pounds. The program, codified as CGS §§ 22-380e through 380m, began statewide on May 22, 1995.
The purpose of the program is to reduce pet overpopulation and reduce the spread of rabies and other diseases through immunization.
Under the APCP, a state resident adopting a dog or cat from a pound must pay a $45 adoption fee, which entitles him or her to a vaccination and sterilization voucher valid for 60 days. The voucher provides a one-time sterilization benefit of $50 and $70 for a male and female cat, respectively, and $100 and $120 for a male and female dog, respectively, plus two coincident pre-surgical vaccinations. The agriculture department states that 219 veterinary practices, with more than 500 veterinarians, were participating in the APCP at the end of FY 07.
Funding for the APCP comes from an annual surcharge on dog licenses of $2 for sterilized dogs and $6 for unsterilized dogs; the $45 adoption fee; proceeds from special commemorative license plates; and donations. For FY 07, the agriculture department reported receiving a total of $752,755, broken down as follows: dog license surcharge, $488,736; adoption fee, $221,789; license plate sales, $42,185, and donations, $45.
According to the department, 2,818 dogs and 1,645 cats were adopted in FY 07, and benefits provided for 1,738 dogs and 983 cats, for an overall 61% sterilization compliance rate. The department states that the APCP provided benefits for the vaccination and sterilization of 16,812 dogs and cats (11,019 dogs and 5,793 cats) from FY 03 through FY 07.
Feral Cat Program
In 2007, the agriculture department for the first time offered $40,000 in grant vouchers to help 11 Connecticut-based nonprofit organizations sterilize and vaccinate 500 feral (undomesticated) cats. A similar amount was allocated in 2008, helping sterilize and vaccinate another 500 feral cats.
PA 07-105 (see below) requires that up to 10% of APCP income be used for the feral cat program. The agriculture department states this will result in grants of $54,000 for FY 09.
More information on the Feral Cat Grant program can be found at: http://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=1367&q=390078&pp=12&n=1
Low-Income Voucher Program
Starting in 2009, voucher benefits will be offered to low-income residents who meet the eligibility criteria for any one of six Department of Social Services programs. Approved applicants will be able to receive vaccination and sterilization benefits for up to three vouchers per household.
PUBLIC ACTS CONCERNING PET STERILIZATION ENACTED IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS
PA 03-198 (SB 486) exempts the Connecticut Humane Society from a $45 fee when acquiring an unsprayed or unneutered dog or cat from a pound if the society sterilized the animal before placing it for adoption. The act allows the agriculture commissioner to terminate the exemption if the society fails to sterilize the animal or report to the Animal Population Control Fund as the act requires. It exempts from sterilization an animal the society receives if a veterinarian certifies in writing that it is medically unfit for surgery.
PA 03-137 (HB 6066) authorizes a municipal animal control officer, before placing for adoption a healthy cat, dog, or other animal in his custody, to have a licensed veterinarian spay or neuter the animal if its owner has not claimed it within seven days after notice of its capture is published. The law (CGS § 22-332 (b) and § 22-332d (b)) already allowed the officer to euthanize, sell, or place for adoption a dog or cat, respectively, within that period. The act exempts veterinarians who perform these procedures from civil liability.
PA 03-103 (SB 49) increases, from $9 to $12, the annual fee an owner or keeper must pay to license each of his or her unneutered male or unsprayed female dogs that are at least six months old.
SA 06-5 (HB 5795) required the agriculture commissioner to study and recommend to the Environment Committee legislation concerning the expansion of the APCP to include sterilization of cats and dogs owned or adopted by low-income people, and the needs of nonprofit organizations that help people who care for feral cats.
An earlier version of HB 5795 would have expanded the APCP to include sterilization and vaccination vouchers for (1) feral cats rescued, kept, or owned by certified feral cat rescuers, owners, and keepers, and (2) dogs and cats whose owners or keepers received public assistance. It also would have allowed nonprofit organizations to issue vouchers to feral cat rescuers.
PA 07-105 (HB 7194) expands the APCP, requiring the agriculture commissioner to establish programs to (1) sterilize and vaccinate the pets of low-income people and (2) assist registered nonprofit rescue groups with feral cat sterilization and vaccination. The commissioner must use APCP funds to pay for the two new programs. It eliminated a provision of prior law that allowed the commissioner to set aside APCP funds to assist in the sterilization of feral cats.
Specifically, the act allows the commissioner to (1) use up to 20% of APCP funds for the two new programs (up to 10% for each) and (2) seek funds for them. It also increases, from $180,000 to $225,000, the amount of APCP funds that the agriculture department may use for administrative costs.
UNSUCCESSFUL LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS SINCE 2003
Proposed HB 5299, which died in the Environment Committee, would have barred anyone from adopting an animal from a pound unless it had been spayed or neutered.
Proposed SB 649 would have required the governor to proclaim February 25 of each year as “Spay Day” to highlight the importance of spaying and neutering pets to help control the pet population. It died in the Environment Committee.
Proposed SB 981, which died in the Environment Committee, would have implemented the SA 06-5 Study Committee recommendations.
The Environment Committee favorably reported a version of HB 5829 (File 471) that would have extended, from seven to 14 days, the time an owner has to reclaim an impounded dog or other domestic animal after the municipal animal control officer has advertised in a local paper, and before the animal may be spayed, neutered, sold, adopted, or euthanized. That provision was later eliminated from the bill, which died in the Senate.