DOAG: DOAG PROGRAM MAKES STATE HEALTHIER FOR PETS, PEOPLE


 This article appeared in the June 18, 2014 edition of the CT Weekly Agricultural Report

 DOAG PROGRAM MAKES STATE HEALTHIER FOR PETS, PEOPLE

By Frank L. Ribaudo, DOAG Animal Population Control Program  

 

The Dept. of Agriculture’s (DoAg’s) efforts to reduce overpopulation and disease among dogs and cats in Connecticut are among the most comprehensive and aggressive in the nation.

 

Over the past two decades, the Animal Population Control Program (APCP) has produced a continual decline in the number of dogs and cats requiring impoundment.

           

Pet overpopulation presents a significant burden on the limited resources of cities and towns, but Connecticut is one of only a few states that offers pet-sterilization through a state agency.

           

The APCP is also believed to be unique in the nation for the benefits offered to municipal pound animals, feral-cat reduction and pets owned by lower-income residents.

           

More than 100,000 animals have been treated under the APCP, including nearly 5,000 in 2013, as detailed in the agency’s recently-released annual report for that year. The program enlists more than 525 participating veterinarians who provide sterilization and vaccination of the pets.

           

The program’s goals are to control the growth of the overall animal population, relieve the burden on municipal pounds and shelters, and minimize the chance of rabies and other infectious diseases being transmitted among animals or from animals to humans.

           

“Reducing surplus animals in our communities, coupled with higher immunization rates, produces a wide range of positive results for both pets and people,” DoAg Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said. “We are not only decreasing the amount of strays and the transmission of disease, but are allowing our cities and towns to shift resources to focus more on enforcement of animal control laws and encouraging responsible pet ownership.”

           

At the heart of the program are subsidized vouchers issued to those who adopt animals from municipal pounds that are used to sterilize and/or vaccinate dogs and cats at a participating veterinarian.

           

The voucher program is run through its own dedicated account with revenue from several different sources, including a mandatory $50 fee for anyone adopting from a pound. It receives no money from the state’s General Fund.

           

The voucher is good for 60 days from the adoption date. It provides a one-time sterilization subsidy of $50 for a male cat, $70 for a female cat, $100 for a male dog and $120 for a female dog.  Two pre-surgical vaccinations are also provided with the sterilization.

 

Other sources of revenue are:

 

  •       An annual surcharge on Connecticut dog licenses issued by municipalities of $2 per sterilized animal and $6 per unsterilized. State law requires all dogs over six months of age to be licensed and have a current rabies vaccination prior to licensing.  Current fees are $19.00 for any unsterilized dog and $8.00 for those that are altered. The more tags sold means more pets will be eligible for vaccination & sterilization benefits. This program is the source of about 65 percent of APCP revenue.
  •       Proceeds from the sale of the “caring for pets” commemorative license plate. More than
    $600,000 has been deposited into the APCP account since the unveiling of the
    plate in 1998.  The “Caring for Pets” plate has maintained its popularity with Connecticut pet lovers and is still second in sales to only the Long Island Sound plate. 
  •      Private donations.

            

In 2013, $486,438 was received from dog license surcharges; $223,110 from the mandatory adoption fee; $37,195 from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles license plate program and $302 in private donations for a total of $747,045. 

 

More than $550,000 of that was paid to participating veterinarians – an average of about $130 per dog and $80 per cat. Administrative costs took up the bulk of the remaining revenue.

           

In 2007, the General Assembly voted to set aside up to 10% of APCP income to be targeted at pets owned by low-Income residents.  For 2014, the allotment was increased to 20% of all APCP revenue.

 

To be eligible, recipients must be participating in a public-assistance program and be approved by the Dept. of Social Services.

           

In 2013, $75,000 was set aside for the low-income program, which funded vouchers to sterilize 864 cats and 564 dogs living in every county of the state.

           

Of the 4,939 total pets treated last year, mixed-breed dogs were the most prevalent with 1,317 adoptions and 971 sterilizations. The Pit Bull/Pit Bull mix was second with 903 adoptions and 596 sterilizations. (Some animals that are adopted are found to be previously sterilized.)

             

The top five purebreds treated were: Chihuahua, Beagle, Labrador Retriever, Yorkshire Terrier and German Shepard.

           

Cat adoptions totaled 1,818 with 1,307 sterilized.  The great majority (1,433) were the domestic short hair breed, with the domestic medium hair second (180). A few pedigree cats such as Himalayans, Manx, Persians and Siamese were also included in the total.

           

The Connecticut Humane Society (CHS) also assists with DoAg’s pet overpopulation efforts by acquiring dogs and cats from municipal facilities without the requirement of paying a voucher fee. 

           

Once a pet is removed from a municipal impound facility, CHS is required to provide vaccination, sterilization and adoption services through one of its three statewide facilities.

           

CHS is also required to submit a biannual report to the APCP that details the disposition of each pet removed.  In 2013, the Society removed 601 pets (337 dogs and 264 cats) from Connecticut municipal impound facilities.

           

Of that total, 411 pets were vaccinated and sterilized, 106 were found to be previously sterilized, 28 were euthanized and 56 were grouped as returned to the pound, in foster care or pending surgery.    

 

More information on the APCP can be found at: ct.gov/doag/apcp and questions on the program can be sent to apcp.agr@ct.gov.