Dear Editor,

I write in support of House Bill 123, a bill that responds to legislative momentum to address New Mexico’s overpopulation of unwanted companion animals, a problem which results in the euthanasia of 60,000 dogs and cats each year. HB123 creates a non-appropriations based mechanism for funding state low-cost spay/neuter through a $100/year surcharge on pet food companies for each dog or cat food product type sold here, raising about $750,000 a year.

Unwanted companion animals are a statewide epidemic that impacts not only dogs and cats, but New Mexico’s families and counties. Counties, in particular, bear the fiscal brunt of this statewide problem. A 2012 study on the scope and impact of animal overpopulation showed that collectively counties budgeted $27 million in 2011 to fund animal shelters (an increase of $2.1 million from 2008), even as upwards of 80 percent of shelters’ animals were euthanized. In 2012 those costs increased, as we would expect.

The fiscal impact to counties of animal overpopulation is linked to a lack of low-cost spay/neuter resources. Nearly 2/3 of New Mexico counties have zero or only one low-cost spay/neuter resource, with impoverished counties with fewest resources. Counties rely on euthanasia to manage the exponential growth of unwanted animals.

Pet food is a $29.5 billion industry, to which New Mexico contributes $108 million each year. HB123’s surcharge is 6/10th of 1 percent of the pet food industry’s annual income from New Mexicans. I urge Socorro County residents to call their legislators in support of HB123. This bill has passed two committee votes and will now be voted upon by the full House.

Sincerely,

Marguerite Sweeney

THE GRIZZ PROJECT of

Magdalena Aiding Animals, Inc