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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: July 2, 2014


Low-Cost Services Will Help Curb Pet Homelessness and Euthanasia

DOVER (July 1, 2014) - A state program that helps people obtain low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for their pets moved July 1 to the Department of Health and Social Services. The Spay & Neuter Program funds spay and neuter services for cats and dogs owned by Delaware residents who receive government benefits, and for non-profit animal organizations.

For $20 per pet, income-eligible applicants who qualify for the Spay & Neuter Program may have up to three of their pets - cats or dogs, spayed or neutered per state fiscal year - from July 1 to June 30. The Spay & Neuter Program works in coordination with participating spay and neuter surgical providers throughout Delaware. Surgeries are performed by licensed veterinarians.

"This program gives our neighbors access to affordable spay and neuter surgeries for their pets," said Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) Program Coordinator Shauna McVey. "Our new office dedicated to cats and dogs will work to expand the program and better serve those who need it most. Spaying and neutering not only benefits your pet, it also benefits your community."

To qualify for the low-cost Spay & Neuter Program, applicants must be a Delaware resident and receive assistance through General Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Delaware Medicaid and Medical Assistance (DMMA), the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC), Social Security - Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security - Disability, or Veteran Disability Compensation. Veterans must have a 50 percent or higher disability rating and apply through the OAW.

The program is funded through a $3 surcharge on all rabies vaccinations administered in Delaware and the $20 per-pet copays submitted by eligible applicants. Funds paid to the Spay & Neuter Program are used to subsidize pre-surgical medical evaluations, spay or neuter surgeries, rabies vaccinations and routine post-surgical care by participating surgery providers. Pets that do not have a current immunization against rabies at the time of surgery will receive a rabies vaccination, covered by the $20 copay. This is one of two funds for spay and neuter services to transition from the Delaware Department of Agriculture to the Office of Animal Welfare. The Animal Welfare License Plate, available through the Division of Motor Vehicles, raises funds for pets not served through the State Spay & Neuter Program.

Since its launch in 2007, more than $2 million have been collected for the Spay & Neuter Program through from rabies surcharges. The Department of Agriculture administered the program from its inception until June 30. Funds raised to date have served more than 16,000 animals owned by more than 7,000 Delaware residents who otherwise may not have had access to such services. Spay and neuter services are also offered at veterinary clinics and animal shelters in Delaware.

Benefits of spay and neuter

Spaying or neutering can be beneficial for both people and their pets in several ways. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the benefits of spayed and neutered companion animals include the prevention of testicular cancer in males, and of uterine infections and breast cancer in females; fewer aggression and territorial marking problems among intact male dogs; discontinuation of heat cycles for spayed females and the urge for neutered males to find a female in heat; and the elimination of unwanted births, which means fewer homeless cats and dogs in shelters and outdoors.

In 2005, the year before the State Spay & Neuter Program was created by the General Assembly, 21,062 dogs and cats entered Delaware's shelters. Of those animals, 2,299 (10.9 percent) were returned to their owners/guardians; while 5,837 (27.7 percent) were adopted; and 13,583 (64.4 percent) were euthanized. In 2013, approximately 15,000 dogs and cats entered Delaware's shelters. Of those animals, 5,364 (approximately 37 percent) were returned to their owners/guardians; while 5,132 (approximately 36 percent) were adopted; and 1,356 (approximately 9 percent) were euthanized.

While spay and neuter programs in Delaware have helped reduce pet homelessness and euthanasia by preventing unwanted litters, there is still much to be done. Delaware shelters consistently remain at capacity and thousands of animals are euthanized each year due to a lack of resources and space to save them. Countless community cats, or free-roaming cats, are found across Delaware. These cats may be strays, feral or pets allowed outside by their owners. Spaying or neutering outdoor cats is an important population control method since cats can reproduce at a rapid pace.

The Office of Animal Welfare was created by the Delaware General Assembly in 2013 based on recommendations from the General Assembly Animal Welfare Task Force. The final task force report urged the establishment of the Office of Animal Welfare under the Department of Health and Social Services to carry out task force recommendations. The Office of Animal Welfare is committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of companion animals, and is dedicated to promoting the human-animal bond in the state of Delaware.

The link de.gov/fixmypet provides more information for the Delaware Spay & Neuter Program.

DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.