S. 457: An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming
MSPCA Position: Support
Sponsors: Senator Montigny
Status: Click Here
S. 457 would enable additional monies to be directed to the state’s Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund (known as the Massachusetts Animal Fund).
This Fund was created by the legislature in 2012 and its purposes are “to be used by the department of agricultural resources to offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of homeless dogs and cats, to offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of dogs and cats owned by low-income residents and to assist with the training of animal control officers consistent with section 151C of chapter 140.” Currently, income to the Fund comes from a donation option on Line 32f on the state income tax return. Approximately $260,000 is raised each year from these donations.
The Fund has been issuing vouchers for people and entities who qualify for services since July of 2014. Due to high demand, the funds for spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations were quickly spent and the Fund had to stop issuing vouchers in August of 2015 for 6 months. At that time, 6,000 vouchers had been issued. In one full year of operation, $547,152.00 was distributed to 248 municipalities to assist 5,030 animals in need (2,832 cats and 2,198 dogs).The Fund started disseminating vouchers again in January of 2016 and received over 1,900 requests for assistance that year. Since its inception, the Fund has answered over 7,600 requests for help , provided no-cost spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations to over 6,400 of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable cats and dogs, and has spent $695,000 to do so.
This bill would require administrative fines issued in pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129 (“Enforcement actions; jurisdiction of commissioner of agriculture, district and superior courts”) to be deposited in the Massachusetts Animal Fund. We expect that this would amount to an additional $30-40,000 each year. The Fund’s voucher program spends, on average, $150 per sterilization surgery with vaccinations; this increase in funding would allow the program to help an additional 200 – 270 dogs and cats per year. With current funding levels, the program has a wait list for vouchers of over 300 residents. While the monies collected via this bill would not be enough to provide services to all the families and animals in need, it would help.
The services that the Fund has provided through this voucher system have reached all corners of the Commonwealth, proving needed care. Below are a few of the notes received by the program:
My two girls, Jane and Elaine, were FINALLY spayed after 10 years. I couldn’t afford to get them both done as I am unable to work and my husband has been out of work for 15 months due to an injury. The Mass Animal Fund took care of spaying BOTH of my girls for me. Both my pets and I were handled with great respect and care. The girls are so much happier now that they are no longer going into heat every other week. They recovered quickly and are actually more loving than they were before their spaying. Thank you so much for all your help. This is a great cause to donate to if you have the means. There are so many that need the help and can’t afford it themselves, which, in most cases, ends up resulting in stray cats and unwanted kittens. I was fortunate that my cats were indoor cats and that we never dealt with kittens, but it stray or feral cats are a problem in many towns across the country. Again, I’m forever grateful the Mass Animal Fund was there for me and my girls.
Eve is my three year old Silky Terrier/Chihuahua mix. The voucher has saved her so much pain as with every heat she would have painful false pregnancies and her breasts would metastasize and she would need a vet’s help with anti-inflammatory and pain medication. Now my girl no longer suffers and she’s happier than ever. Thank you for saving my girl so she’s no longer in pain. I struggle with PTSD and Bipolar Disorder and she’s the best therapy.
I want to thank all the taxpayers who funded this program through their small donation at income tax filing; this program helped me take care of two stray cats abandoned near my home. Both pregnant! I was able to fix the moms and all five kittens! It was a blessing to have help as I am living on a small disability check. Without the Mass Animal Fund, I never could have taken care of them. I now have the moms, Sheba and Gigi, and one baby girl who I named Splatterpuss because she looks splattered with orange paint! They are wonderful cats. Thank you.
Thanks to your program, I was able to keep my two cats when I was forced to move from my previous apartment in only a few weeks! If my two female cats weren’t spayed I was told I couldn’t take them with me. But your program prevented that from happening and I am forever grateful. My cats are like my medicine—they help me with my depression.
However, the Fund not only helps pet owners. All Massachusetts residents benefit when the number of homeless animals is reduced. Funds that would be spent housing and caring for animals in municipal animal control facilities are decreased. Research shows that intact dogs are more likely to bite than altered dogs; therefore, a reduction in dog bites is possible through spaying and neutering. Additionally, spaying and neutering helps prevent unwanted behaviors in dogs such as roaming and aggression; by decreasing these behaviors, public safety is increased.
More information on the Massachusetts Animal Fund can be found at: http://massanimalfund.com. A link to the annual report will be soon found at: http://massanimalfund.com/annualreport (the report it almost finalized).