Animal lovers might have a reason to cheer after Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The council is considering applying $3 from every dog license in the city toward a spay and neuter program to alleviate pressure on Pima County’s animal shelter.
Every year the Pima Animal Care Center sees thousands of the region’s unwanted pets pass through its doors. Last year, more than 24,000 animals were taken in by the shelter.
While the center does it best to find the animals new homes, many end up euthanized.
The county wanted to lower those numbers, so in 2009 it raised license fees from $12 to $15 and allocated the increase to a low-cost spay-and-neuter program through the Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona.
Kim Janes, PACC manager, credits the program for a drop in animals the shelter sees every year.
Janes said the shelter has taken in almost 3,000 fewer animals the past two years.
“What’s changed significantly over that time is the spay-neuter program,” Janes said.
He said that while the county’s $220,000 annual contribution results in more than 3,000 pets fixed a year, more could be accomplished if every city in the county participated.
While the county hoped every municipality would follow suit and kick in $3 from every license, Janes said, none has contributed to the program so far.
But that could change Tuesday.
Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik is spearheading the effort as way to spare more animal lives and save taxpayers money.
“We’re killing over 7,000 animals per year out at the shelter. That number could be reduced, and it would save (us) money if we simply followed the county’s lead,” Kozachik said.
“It’s the ethical thing to do. … We know that sterilization reduces shelter costs. It also reduces the number of animals we kill in our shelters. There’s no rational reason for us not to earmark the license fee increases to the spay-neuter program.”
If the council approves the measure, there wouldn’t be any increase in license fees for city residents. But it would add about $150,000 a year to the spay-neuter program.
Janes said such a substantial jump in available money would almost double the number of animals the program could handle annually.
The program is open to anyone who wants to spay or neuter his or her animal. There is a $10 co-payment, but it is waived for people on government assistance.