Funding for spay and neuter services moves forward in House

By Christina Ramey
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – The Board of Animal Health may soon be able to provide grants to veterinarians and local shelters to provide spay and neuter services.

Under current law, all facilities that rescue or are an animal shelter must spay and neuter the animals before adopting them out. The only exception is if the animal is too young to get safely spayed or neutered.

Animals like this, currently residing at the Southside Animal Shelter, are not supposed to be adopted if they haven’t been spayed or neutered. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com

In those cases, the new owner must pay a $75 deposit saying that they will get the procedure done within 120 days. When they do that, they can go back to the shelter and get the deposit back.

If they don’t spay or neuter the pet, they forfeit the deposit. Currently, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles administers the forfeited deposits, putting that money in the same fund as the money from the BMV pet-friendly license plate.

Senate Bill 282 would change that by putting BOAH, which is under the State Veterinarian and the Livestock Sanitary Commission, in charge of administering the funds.

“Instead of going straight to that one non-profit, the money would come to the Board of Animal Health and the new spay and neuter fund proposed in this bill, and BOAH will have an application and grant process to distribute those funds,” said Sarah Simpson, director of legal affairs for BOAH.

A license plate that helps support the Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com

The hope is that by creating this fund with BOAH, fewer taxpayer dollars will be spent to care for stray animals. According to data collected by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a Indiana spends $16.2 million in taxpayer money to shelter and care for stray animals.

Kathy Williams, who is with the ASPCA, testified before the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and said she hopes that with this new fund Indiana will be able to cut back on the number of animals that are cared for in animal shelters.

“Parts of the country where they’ve had very aggressive spay-neuter efforts they’ve significantly reduced their overpopulation to the point that they’re actually bringing in animals from other parts of the country to adopt out,” Williams said.

With the new fund, all spay and neuter organizations will have an opportunity to receive funds to help provide low-cost services.

“This would be a big asset to most counties. If you have a low-cost spay and neuter program and you can reduce the number of feral cats and stray dogs, it’s a big help to the counties funds that have to, they have to bear the cost of those animals,” Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, said.

The bill passed unanimously and will head to the full House for consideration.

Christina Ramey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students

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