Thursday, May 14, 2009

Should I buy that license plate?

For several years the State of New York has had money set aside for the Animal Population Control Fund. The fund is managed by the Agriculture and Markets Department. People on public assistance could apply to the department for a voucher which could be taken to a limited number of veterinarians who would perform the surgery for a $20 co-pay.
Last year, the governor 'swept' $1 million out of that fund (meaning that the governor took it for the general fund and it will never come back). The money comes from several sources including dog license fees, unused spay/neuter deposits from shelters and sales of special license plates that support spay/neuter.
Now the Agriculture and Markets Department has announced that they are running low on funds. If the current trend of shrinking reserves continues, they are predicting that by October several counties will no longer have a program available to them. The program has a provision to give priority to counties where the most money is coming from when funds get low.
The fund currently has just under $500,000 in reserves. If the governor had left the money where it belonged and used it for what was promised, essential spay and neuter services would still be available throughout the state. Unfortunately now, less than half the state will have these services available to low income people. This is a sad and unnecessary state of affairs. The money that was designated for the fund, should have stayed there.
So, should you pay $20 extra every year to have a spay/neuter license plate? The DMV's website says that the money goes to the animal population control fund, and it does until the governor decides to take it away. I would love to be able to recommend that everyone proudly display their support of the spay/neuter fund on their cars, but the promise of where the money will go, may not be kept by New York State.

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