New Mexico proposes pet food fee to help spay, neuter pets

The revenues from the higher fees fund dog and cat sterilization programs.

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New Mexico, USA lawmakers proposed a bill that would raise the registration fee pet food manufacturers pay to the state, reported several local news outlets. The bill would raise the fee from US$2 to US$100 for each product sold in New Mexico. The revenues from the higher fees would be used to fund dog and cat sterilization programs for low-income residents of the state.

Potential reduced euthanasia versus lower in-state retail sales

State Representative Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe) and his colleagues pre-filed the bill with the state legislature, reported KOB4. Trujillo stated that New Mexico earns US$16,000 in registration fees, while dog and cat food companies sell $110 million worth of pet food. He pointed to similar legislation passed in Maine, Maryland and West Virginia. Maryland’s animal shelters, for example, reported a 43 percent reduction in cat euthanasia and a 25 percent reduction in dog euthanasia since the bill’s passage in 2013, he said.

However, New Mexican pet owners worry that the bill could push more people to buy pet food online, reported KOAT7. Pet food retailers believe manufacturers may pass the cost of the registration fees on to consumers. Brick-and-mortar retailers fear that could hurt local stores, if online retailers remain immune to the increased registration fees.

Proposed alternative to higher fees

An editorial in the Farmington Daily Times invoked the Declaration of Independence to challenge the proposed bills’ logic. While the editorial’s author acknowledged that owning pets may be part of the pursuit of happiness, that pursuit isn’t guaranteed to be free. The burden of covering the costs of pet ownership should be borne by the pet owner, regardless of their economic status.

Instead, the editorial’s author suggested tax breaks for veterinarians who perform discount spay or neuter procedures for individuals with verified low incomes. 

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