Statewide Programs: Introduction
As the name implies, statewide programs cover entire states, revolving around economy of scale - one set of guidelines, one phone number to promote, one set of materials for public education instead of dozens. The main focus of these state programs should be to help those people (low-income) who would otherwise not be able to get their dogs/cats altered, and who would contribute to the expensive and wasteful problem of companion animal overpopulation without the help provided by the state program.
A good state program is/has:
- Easy to use, easy to administer
- Carefully crafted guidelines and procedures, rules and regulations
- Well-constructed legislation to set up the program
- Support of the state veterinary association - easier to obtain if s/n is targeted
- A fund devoted exclusively to spay/neuter, no exceptions
- Funding that is sufficient to complete a year at a time, planned for at least 5 years
- A committed and dedicated Director or Coordinator for the program
- An oversight committee to ensure the program's difficulties are addressed promptly
For a copy of the legislation that set up the New Hampshire program, go to Laws and Legislation, listed in the Directory on the Home Page.
Peter Marsh, architect of the New Hampshire program, makes the following suggestions:
- For people in large states, the idea of setting up a statewide program may seem overwhelming. If so, it may be wise to start with a city-wide or county wide program to work out the details.
- To have any impact, the program must result in sterilizations that would not have happened without the program (“effective surgeries”)
- To work effectively, a low-income program must be affordable to clients. This means that the maximum co-payment must be $10- $20. It must also be accessible to them. Often a network of veterinarians provides the greatest accessibility for low-income clients.
- Generally it will require some form (or forms) of public funding to secure the adequate and annualized source of revenue that is needed for a neutering assistance program to be effective.
Before people take on the task of setting up a state program, we suggest they contact SpayUSA for useful advice, helpful legal experts, documentation from other states, and committed groups and individuals who may wish to help make it happen within the state.
Other Examples and Articles:
New Hampshire Model State Program
New Jersey State Animal Population Control
See: The Maine Low-Income Spay/Neuter Program
Top 10 Things Learned From NH Spay/Neuter Program
Companion Animal Overpopulation Programs