DOVER – Delaware’s Spay & Neuter Program has helped spay or neuter more than 10,000 animals over the last four years, a significant measure of the program’s success, Delaware Department of Agriculture officials announced.
The program, launched in October 2008, helps low-income Delawareans and nonprofit animal organizations in Delaware pay for the costs of spaying and neutering dogs and cats. It is funded with a $3 surcharge on rabies vaccinations administered by veterinarians in Delaware. The majority of the funding has assisted low-income residents who could not otherwise afford the cost – benefiting more than 6,800 animals and 4,550 owners.
“This is a positive milestone in our statewide efforts to help control our animal populations and reduce euthanasia rates,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “This program represents a good working partnership between state government, animal welfare organizations, veterinarians and pet owners. We appreciate the efforts they have all made in making spaying and neutering affordable, and look forward to its continued growth and success in helping more Delawareans protect their pets.”
After starting as a pilot program, the initiative launched statewide in October 2008, receiving 95 individual applications that month. The program now receives applications from more than 200 individuals each month.
The numbers have risen as more service providers have joined the program, increasing access in all parts of the state. There are 10 surgery service providers in New Castle County, four in Kent County and eight in Sussex County.
“Everyone has a role to play in protecting the health and welfare of our animals,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst, head of the Department’s Poultry and Animal Health Section. “Making spaying and neutering affordable is a key part of that mission.”
The fund receives about $275,000 a year from the rabies surcharge. Seventy-five percent of the funding assists Delawareans who meet income eligibility guidelines, with individuals contributing a $20 co-pay.
Eligible individuals must participate in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Delaware medical assistance (e.g., Medicaid, DPAP, QMB), General Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Women, Infants and Children, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability or Veteran’s Administration Disability Compensation.
Twenty-five percent of the funding goes directly to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations for spay and neuter surgeries. Cats have been the majority of the animals spayed or neutered, at 66 percent of the surgeries completed to date.
“Spaying or neutering your pet is an important decision,” said Lisa Tanielian, the state Spay & Neuter Program Coordinator. “We know Delaware animal owners love their pets and want to do the right thing. The benefits of spaying and neutering can include reducing fighting and roaming and the risks of some forms of cancers and pet homelessness, as well as eliminating unwanted litters and marking.”
To participate, individuals must submit an application, co-pay and a registration form for each pet, limited to three per year. Once their eligibility has been verified, the owner will receive a certificate to present to a service provider. The providers – veterinarians and organizations that provide spay/neuter services – then submit the certificate to the Department of Agriculture for reimbursement. Applications are available on the Department’s website or by calling the Department at 800-282-8685.
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
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