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Norwich Bulletin - 10/24/2004

CT's Annual Report

I have always maintained that Connecticut, the richest state per capita, does not do all that it could and should for animals. We continue to have small towns that euthanize on a regular basis. This type of "animal control" is senseless and unnecessary. On the other hand, I am always amazed that we are one of four states that have an innovative, animal population control program.

We share the spotlight with New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York in that we created the APCP in 1992, in order to provide vaccination and sterilization help for any dog or cat adopted from a Connecticut municipal pound. Except for a short time when the program was suspended for lack of funds, the program has helped reduce the overpopulation of unwanted dogs and cats in the State.

Although it is much more dog oriented than cat, the explanation for that is simple - most municipal pounds do not have facilities for cats and therefore do not accept them. And so it is easier and more the norm to adopt a dog from a pound, rather than a cat.

This past fiscal year, the Animal Population Control Program was responsible for providing spay/neuter benefits for 3,932 of the 5,738 animals adopted from local pounds. There were 2,826 dogs and 1,106 cats sterilized and given their shots, giving us a 69% over all compliance rate. Payments to 205 participating veterinary practices came to almost a half million dollars! This is amazing, considering the program receives absolutely no money from the state's general fund!

The Animal Population Control Program has its own account which receives its monies from four different sources. The first and major source of income is the dog license surcharge - $2 for a sterilized dog and $6 for an unsterilized dog. Next comes the money from the $45 adoption fee that is charged by the individual pounds and goes toward the program.

There are out and out donations from the general public and the very popular "caring for pets" commemorative license plate. This is a license plate every pet owner should have. It can be purchased through the Department of Motor Vehicles three different ways. There is the "off the shelf" garden type variety in which random numbers and letters can be purchased for $50 (the program receives $35); there is also the transfer of a current plate for $70 (in which APCP receives $55); or you can do what I did - a brand new vanity plate for $135 (although the APCP still only receives $55, so the current plate transfer is the best deal for its money for the program).

I love my PETALK caring for animals plate! There are almost 1,000 plates out there right now and its popularity continues to grow, making it second in sales only to the Long Island Sound Plate. So if you are an animal lover, want to do something for yourself or another animal lover, consider the gift of a Pet Plate for Christmas! It is especially satisfying to know that a large portion of the plate charge, (no matter which option you choose) will go directly to the program. And it's a gift that keeps on giving because every time you renew your registration, there is a $15 fee for the renewal and $10 goes directly into the fund.

For an extra bit of knowledge, the APCP does a breed profile as part of its annual report. Since the cats in the pounds are almost all mixed breeds, there really is not a feline breed profile except to say there were more shorthair than longhair cats adopted. However, with the dogs, it is a bit more interesting to find out that after the mixed breed dogs, the primary purebreds were Rottweilers first, German Shepherds second, and Labrador Retrievers third.

Pet overpopulation is expensive and a burden to the towns who are trying to cope with too many animals and not enough homes. Euthanasia is not the answer, nor is simply finding the stray animal a new home. Sterilization is the answer. It stops the ever increasing number of animals all over Connecticut. It reduces the risk of infectious diseases that are caused by fluid or blood contact. It allows animal control departments to concentrate on other aspects of their responsibilities, namely, education or law enforcement.

All in all, it is the one shining star on Connecticut's books regarding animal control and I urge all my readers to learn more about the program and become part of the cure!

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