SANTA FE ― House Bill (HB) 123, sponsored by Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe), was introduced in direct response to persistent requests from legislators seeking a funding mechanism for statewide, low-cost spay-neuter services.
HB 123 is designed to provide sustained and robust funding to reduce New Mexico’s dog and cat overpopulation problem that results in over 65,000 homeless animals being euthanized each year.
In 2011, Senate Memorial 36 requested a study to identify the most effective way to establish and sustain a fund to help with the cost of spay/neuter services for animals of lower income New Mexicans. The funding mechanism identified as most plausible by the study and presented in HB 123 was overwhelmingly approved Monday by New Mexico’s House of Representatives.
“The serious challenge of dog and cat overpopulation in New Mexico affects not only animals, but also the safety and well-being of communities across the state. We have searched for ways to generate adequate funds to expand statewide, low-cost spay/neuter programs that help stem this costly and tragic problem. HB 123 is a strong response to the challenge,” Trujillo said.
The impact of homeless animals in New Mexico is staggering for New Mexico’s fiscal health and public safety. Every year over 65,000 dogs and cats are euthanized simply because there are not enough homes for them. Costs for animal control, sheltering, and euthanasia across the state exceed $38 million annually. Creating more access to low-cost spay/neuter is a proven method that will help decrease the distressingly high euthanasia rates–some up to 80-90%–in our shelters.
New Mexico lawmakers have created two funding mechanisms for low-cost spay/neuter in recent years, the spay/neuter license plate, and a voluntary tax-checkoff program. But these do not generate funds sufficient to address the crushing overpopulation problem.
HB 123 will generate about $700,000 per year to pay for thousands of low-cost spay/neuter surgeries by increasing the meager $2 fee New Mexico currently charges large pet food companies to sell dog and cat food in the state. Large companies would instead pay $102 per pet food label annually, putting New Mexico more in line with what many other states charge. Even if companies were to pass on increased fees to consumers, the fiscal impact would be just $1.48 per year for a pet-owning household.
“This proven approach makes sense for New Mexico. A sustained investment in low-cost spay/neuter services will mean fewer homeless animals have to be euthanized, animal control costs will drop, and communities will be safer and healthier overall,” said Lisa Jennings, Executive Director of Animal Protection Voters.
HB 123 provides exemptions for smaller pet food companies and prescription diets. Spay/neuter services would be available to income-qualifying new Mexicans.
The bill next goes to the New Mexico Senate.