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Spay/neuter fund proposed in Virginia

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A Virginia lawmaker is proposing to set up a companion animal sterilization program to curb overpopulation and reduce the number of cats and dogs put down in shelters across the state.

Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County) introduced a bill Jan. 16 that would set up a fund to provide low- or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries for pets in low-income households, companion animals under the care of animal shelters and rescue groups, and feral cats. Private veterinarians and other sterilization providers would perform the procedures and be reimbursed by the fund. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would administer the program, which would be paid for with a $50 surcharge on each ton of pet food distributed in the commonwealth.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources for its consideration.

Proponents say the legislation is needed because tens of thousands of healthy but unwanted animals are euthanized in Virginia shelters each year.

Neighboring Maryland and West Virginia recently enacted similar measures and are in the process of implementing them.

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