Group wants to tap animal fund

Mar. 18, 2013 @ 01:30 PM

A county advisory committee is  looking for a way to offer pet spaying and neutering services without pet licensing fees.
Commissioners provided $25,000 in the current county budget to start a low-cost program for pet owners in the unincorporated areas surrounding High Point and for Greensboro. High Point has its own animal control programs.
Many cities and counties require pet licensing paid with the rabies vaccination as a way to pay for the service. Pender and New Hanover require pet licenses. The county animal welfare committee is considering linking the fund to other programs. Licensing fees encourage pet owners to spay and neuter their animals, according to animal welfare advocates.
“But the license can be seen as a tax,” Scott Greene, director of Guilford County Animal Control, said during a recent committee meeting. “Spaying and neutering is important. We need a program.”
County officials estimate that 50 percent of the pets they see at rabies clinics have not been spayed or neutered. Countywide,  just 40 percent of pets have been vaccinated for rabies.
Greene suggested tapping a N.C. Department of Agriculture fund from which needy pet owners could get a voucher to pay for the surgeries. The fund offers as much as $500,000 a year for animal services statewide for low income pet owners.
“We could work out a plan to tap that money,” Greene said. “Clinics would handle most of the vouchers, not the veterinarians.”
State officials reported that in 2011, 27 counties requested more than $432,000 in reimbursements for more than 8,000 surgeries performed. The state agency reimbursed $398,955.
The committee also discussed raising fines, including those pet owners pay to retrieve their at-large animals from animal control, to help pay for spaying and neutering.
“We’d have to show a relation between the fee and the cost for the service,” said County Attorney Mark Payne.
 

Benefits


Vets: The N.C. Veterinary Medical Association says spaying or neutering decreases the risk of cancer in dogs and cats, decreases aggressive behaviors and eliminates most urine marking behaviors, among a host of other benefits.