MD Seeks to Increase Access to Spay-Neuter for Low Income Owners

Ever since seeing the true colors of the pet food industry during 2007’s massive pet food recall, I haven’t trusted the lot of them.  I think far greater regulation and transparency would be required before I could consider trusting pet food manufacturers again.  And since neither of those things appears to be on the horizon, I consider the pet food corporations to be basically another entity profiting from the compassionate nature of American pet owners trying to do right by their pets.

Maryland lawmakers have formed a task force to determine how the state could raise $1 million a year for a spay-neuter fund to enable low income residents to neuter their pets.  There are more than ten thousand pet food products registered each year with the state at a fee of $50 each.  The task force plans to propose a bill in the upcoming General Assembly session which would raise that fee to $150.  The increased revenue would be used for the spay-neuter fund.  Not surprisingly, the pet food corporations are displeased at the idea:

But Kurt Gallagher, a task force member and spokesman for the Pet Food Institute, said the fee is arbitrary and will hurt pet owners who already pay $20 million in sales tax for pet food.


“This amounts to a million-dollar tax on pet food, and we’re very disappointed that the task force voted to tax consumers,” Gallagher said. “We are in favor of voluntary mechanisms to fund this program, and we’ll be working to oppose any tax on pet food.”

Obviously if the registration fee goes up, pet food companies are going to pass the cost along to consumers.  It’s also no surprise to hear the PFI supports “voluntary mechanisms”, kind of like how they voluntarily police themselves on quality assurance, which has been a total fail resulting in sick people and pets.

Increasing access to spay-neuter for owners who want to get their pets fixed is a worthy goal and part of the set of programs proven to end the killing of healthy/treatable pets in shelters.  This appears to be a primary concern for the task force members:

The task force, composed of legislators, veterinarians and animal advocates, commissioned an October study that found about 45,000 animals are euthanized in Maryland shelters each year.

Of course the primary concern of the pet food corporations is the same as it ever was:  profit.  Anything perceived as a potential threat to the industry’s bottom line is going to be viewed as death, even if the cause is aimed at saving the lives of pets.

20 thoughts on “MD Seeks to Increase Access to Spay-Neuter for Low Income Owners

  1. Well good for the task force for trying to make a change. If the food companies have such a problem with the increased fee, it would make sense to try to argue for a lower fee change. I agree that would be a drastic change for the companies, but all they would have to do is argue that it is too much and propose $100 or even $75 as the fee. Even though the more the better, I’m sure any amount would help.

  2. I’m sure the pet food industry’s concern for a tax they will pass on to consumers matches their concern for the cats and dogs being eaten by some disgusting people in Asia. I doubt Maryland’s pet owners will much notice the small increase, especially when they know why. I lived many years in Maryland, which is my beloved home state.

  3. Not only do they not want a tax, they don’t want s/n programs making fewer pets. The Pet Food Industry can stick their objections where the sun doesn’t shine.

  4. How about instead of passing this exorbitant extra $100 fee per product (each of which I’m sure makes more than $100 in profit for the company each year) the CEO takes a $100 cut in his bloated pay? This is one of the many reasons I make my own pet food.

  5. I have to disagree here.. why should pet food companies fund spay/neuter programs. How do you know the CEO makes a “bloated” salary? Besides very few of these “funds” yet get used for their original purpose.. most find their way into another “bloated” government program. and frequently ( if the state is anything like mine.. funds are “borrowed” from other funds to promote other “bloated’ government programs and never returned. How many people will have to be hired to “fund the program”and make sure the funds are distributed .. I see this as another CNN ( or Fox if you prefer) expose on “where did the money go”
    I do not want to pay more for my dog food to fund low cost castration programs .. sorry. i already pay enough tax on my dog food. New taxes are not the way to make people have their pets castrated. The “trickle down” effect will not work here. Also those same people whom are taking advantage of the castration program will be paying higher tax on their pets food… makes no sense.
    This is a “luxury tax”on owning a pet. I preer a check off on your state tax or a license plate..

  6. making pet food more expensive is not a way to help pets I love your posts but think your distaste fo pet food companies is clouding your ideas on this one.. more forced taxation is not a solution to pet population control.
    Most people feed their pets pet company supplied foods.. why would we make that more expensive?
    What about taxing veterinarians visits? Drugs for pets? and extra tax on dog collars, leashes. boarding and dog training programs? Food is essential for pets.. owning a pet is not essential ( to most people). my last bag of dog food cost $75.00. that is for one week for my pets. I am already taxed 9% on this.
    I see many posts here where people do not like the “pet food industry” however until everyone that owns a pet is willing to make their pets food at home with “people ingredients” pet food will be with us. Yes i cringe when i see people coming out of Wal mart. or Target with 50 pound bags of whatever.. but then I think.. at least they own dogs..why should they be punished?

    1. Here is a chance for pet food corporations to band together (they already are), do something good for pets (fund the spay neuter program) and look good while doing it by donating the million dollars up front. They could promote themselves as saving pet owners money, helping to get more pets neutered and remind everyone of their benevolent “voluntary mechanism”. Coming up with a million dollar donation by passing the hat around to Purina, Pedigree, Iams, etc. would be easy as pie.

      1. passing the hat around is not taxing the very people who support their products. asking for a donation is. I am not sure how you see this as passing the hat around if the companies are asked to pay a new fee that will be passed on to the purchasers of their products who are ultimately pet owners. If one million people check of one dollar on their state income tax to voluntarily donate. that means even people without pets can participate.. and there are many more pet owners than one million in the state so the one million goal could be reached very quickly.
        Vets are the one who benefit them most from spay/neuter surgeries. They make the most money from this why not make them pay extra or force them to do so many free surgeries a month in order to keep their licenses. ( tongue in cheek here just a bit0

      2. I’m saying this represents an opportunity for them to do that, if they wanted. I’m not saying they will do it, I’m just saying they could, easily.

    2. What kind of food is costing you $75 a week for cryin’ out loud? You’re saying that owning a pet isn’t essential – I’m thinking it isn’t essential to spend that much money feeding them.

  7. I’d be fine w/ the additional tax, if it would actually cut down on the killing in MD shelters. I already spend a good bit of my money and time helping others get their cats fixed toward that goal, though, so of course I would feel that way.
    Can I raise a couple of extra points/share a few thoughts about this for discussion?
    The shelter in Carroll Co., MD has terrible hours, does not even offer most stray cats for adoption, does nothing to market the pets, refuses help from groups (like mine) that offer to help them with this, alienates the animal lovers in the community, and recently increased the fee to adopt a cat to $100. Rescue groups import cats from southern shelters for adoption in our county, while our shelter kills 80% of the cats that come in. Until these things change, all the spay and neuter funds in the world are unlikely to help cats entering this shelter. It is so bad, I’m convinced that our spay/neuter rate could be 100%, and this shelter would still be killing cats.
    That being said, I do recognize that spay and neuter is a very important component in ending shelter killing, particularly for cats, because they are such prolific breeders.
    Whatever legislation is passed should include community and feral cats.
    I believe that a state wide program could eventually reduce the overall burden on the tax payers. The tax payers fund our local shelters. If less pets come in, less pets need to be housed, less pets are killed, less bodies to need to be disposed of. I’d much rather pay to have pets fixed, than pay for all of this. Better for the animals, and our wallets, I would expect.
    Vet costs in this area are becoming absurd. I chat w/ pet owners in other areas online, and compare costs. They are often appalled at the costs here. It shouldn’t be due to insurance costs, either. The max a vet would ever have to pay here, if sued, is the dollar value of the pet. The best price I have found to spay a female cat at a regular vet is over $200. If some incentive could be put into place for vets to reduce the price of spay/neuter surgery, that would really help.
    I’m very curious what the new tax would actually work out to, say per pound, of pet food? I’m sure the data is available to calculate this (from the pet food industry) yet no one seems to be putting it out there when this legislation is talked about. I bet it is very small, and most people would be willing to pay it if it really meant less killing in our shelters.

  8. I am very tired of HSUS and their minions rallying good people around “legislation that will ……” while they fail to share the actual words of such legislation. It is insulting to those who work hard and contribute time and money to help animals. It is destructive of community among local groups. It is disingenuous to defend so-called shelters which cannot even provide basic business data (full and transparent intake and disposition statistics, broken down in a way that allows taxpayers to see how the facility is doing) and at the same time ignore shelter reform demands. Distracting people with “spay/neuter fund” chatter is just wrong.

    I managed to track down one of the sessions and noticed the H$U$ lobbyist casually sitting back, not engaged at all, while one of the old hands bragged about how few staff she has and how small her budget is and how oh, she could not POSSIBLY be expected to know how many animals she had that were not spayed or neutered. None of the others NEEDED say a word, they had their excuses all set out.

    Gimme a break. Yesbiscuit, your readers deserved better reporting. Maryland’s “animal PAC” is undermining No Kill, not collecting donations that will save a single animal’s life. Donations to that votes for animals group will be political contributions, and the group does not seem to operate a spay/neuter program.

    1. I’m sure that “old hand” (I bet hand was not your first word choice, it would not have been mine) you speak of Linda, must be familiar to Shirley. You remember the director of “Body Bags R Us?,” She is on the task force.

    2. Linda,

      I just came across this article and, since I support access to spay-neuter for low income owners, wanted to share it. I have no way of knowing who is operating behind the scenes in MD or what their agenda may be. But as far as the narrow scope of this article – the state proposing to require higher registration fees from corporations that profit from pets in order to put money into a spay-neuter fund – I don’t really see how my reporting was lacking. You are of course entitled to your opinion on that. Vote with your feet.

  9. Let me start by saying that there is no reason to be killing 45,000 pets each year. If you look at the cost, to kill each pet, it comes to about $450 in many localities. If counties used social media to move their animals quickly they could lower that amount and use the balance to fund the spay and neuter clinics.

    Unfortunately that makes too much sense so I think the larger fee, for animal food, is a great idea. I know they will pass it on to us, the consumers and that is ok because we love animals and don’t want to see any animal die without a darn good reason. It shouldn’t cost us more than a penny a bag.

    But let’s get real here. The extra $100 is a drop in the bucket for a company. They get to take it off their taxes so they really aren’t paying $100. And, if they don’t love animals, and be willing to help save 45,000 animals a year, for a measly $100, then why should we want their business anyway?

    Do we really want to buy pet food from a company that doesn’t love animals and want the best for them? What kind of product would that kind of company produce that we’d want to feed our pets?

    It would obviously be a company that is more interested in the bottom line than the welfare of our pets. I sure wouldn’t want to buy their products. We have enough problems with the companies that claim they love pets.

    As a Maryland resident, I plan to let them know I think it is an excellent idea. I will also go to pet food FB pages and let them know I hope they love animals enough to shell out $100 more, a year, to save thousands of pet lives.

    1. there is no reason to believe that much of this money will reach the consumer for low cost s/n.. or that low income people will have access to the service. In my state low income “vouchers” were given out.. and in minutes they “ran out’ or rather the program was no misused that the money was really never there to begin with.. when you tax people to feed their pets ( already done in most places).
      The “bottom line” is critical to business.. when businesses cannot operate.. people lose their jobs.. then how do they feed their pets and how does that help pets in shelters.. look how many people have been force to turn in their dogs because of loss of jobs or housing or both.. this may seem like a “drop in the bucket’ but 100 this year can be much more in the future. we are already taxed on pet food.. where does that money go now? That might be a good questions to ask any “task force” we pay 9% on pet food..if 1% of that went to s/n programs pets might be saved.. and the tax would stay the same.. do Maryland residents pay tax on pet food currently? If so.. where does that money go?
      and as for “saving 45,000 per year” this is a red herring.. they will not all be saved by adding a tax to pet food.. and which foods will be taxed.. horse hay? rabbit pellets? cat food?
      Where do you draw the line?

      1. Alice, this isn’t a tax on pet food. It is a fee, paid by the manufacturer to do business in the state. Yes, they will likely increase the cost of the food – but if they up the price more than a penny a pound, they will be overcharging to make up for it, and should be brought up before the consumer protection board (or whatever MD has like that).

        Your anti-tax screed gets boring when that isn’t what’s being discussed.

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