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Editorial: Spay/neuter bill a smart fix

Should New Mexicans continue to flush more than $50 million away every year catching, caring for and ultimately euthanizing tens of thousands of unwanted cats and dogs?

Or should the state Legislature assess pet-food manufacturers a reasonable, phased-in, $100 fee on the pet food and treat products they sell here to expand spay and neuter services?

The humane and fiscally responsible answer is the latter. Senate Bill 57 would phase the $100 fee in over three years on the 13,300 dog and cat food products registered for sale in New Mexico, on top of the current $2 product registration fee. It sunsets in six years so lawmakers can evaluate the results. And supporters say even if pet food manufacturers pass the fee increase on to consumers, they would see an average increase of about $1.50 per year, per pet.

The bill, an adaptation of successful programs in West Virginia, Maine and Maryland, makes exemptions for livestock and animal feed, as well as small manufacturers. It’s projected to raise $1.47 million annually at full phase-in, with over $1.3 million of that going directly to 18,000 to 26,000 spay/neuter surgeries a year, including mobile clinics for rural communities and programs for low-income families.

Animal Protection of New Mexico says 100,000 dogs and cats enter animal shelters across the state every year; taxpayers spend $38 million a year for animal control and sheltering and donors fork over around $13 million. About 20,000 of those sheltered animals are euthanized.

Think of what we could do for animals with that money instead of trying to kill our way out of animal overpopulations.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.