A set of bills introduced in the New Jersey legislature would dilute funds from the decades-long spay neuter program overseen by the Department of Health, to the detriment of pets and their owners.
New Jersey bill S883 and sister bill A 2197 would authorize the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission “to issue special Humane State license plates . . . [and] [a]fter the deduction of the cost of designing, producing, issuing, renewing, and publicizing the plates and of any computer programming changes that are necessary to implement the license plate program, in an amount not to exceed $150,000, the additional fees will be deposited into a special non-lapsing fund known as the ‘Humane State License Plate Fund”’ that will be appropriately annually to the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey (AWFNJ). http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S1000/883_S2.HTM
While the bill was reported from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Senator Sarlo, Chair of that committee voted no, saying that he is opposed to this bill, like all others establishing a special license plate, because they all cost the taxpayers money.
Here, there is additional concern because New Jersey has a pre-existing special license described above, established during the Florio administration. I remember attending the bill signing at Drumthwacket, the official residence of the governor of the State of New Jersey. The “Animal Friendly” license plate, which debuted in 1994, helps fund “the animal population control program. . . [which] provides low cost spaying and neutering for thousands of pets and encourages the adoption of thousands more each year in New Jersey.”
If enacted into law, this new special plate will dilute the existing animal population program, which had, as of 2012, aided in the spaying and neutering of more than 192,000 cats and dogs, according to then Commissioner of Health, Mary E. O’Dowd.
The funds raised through the [program] support[s] the spay or neutering of dogs and cats adopted from New Jersey shelters, pounds and rescue groups, as well as those owned by persons on public assistance programs.
This fund has been historically popular but runs out of money quickly-many needy families are unable to benefit from the program.
An added benefit of the spay-neuter program, is that it introduces new pet owners to their local veterinarian (who performs the surgery at a greatly reduced fee) and establishes a veterinarian-client-patient relationship that serves as a basis for lifelong veterinary care.
If the State is interested in providing additional funding for animal welfare concerns, this pre-existing program could benefit from additional funds, or perhaps be expanded to assist pet owners without sufficient means provide veterinary care to their pets throughout their lives.