Increased pet adoption fees draw criticism


Nov. 29, 2010 at 5:29 a.m.

A decision to increase spaying and neutering fees in Victoria County came under fire Monday from pet activists.

"This fee is a step backward for a forward-looking city," Cindy Schneider with Pets Are Worth Saving told the commissioners court. "We should be reducing fees to help the animals, not increasing fees."

Schneider and others are concerned the increased fees will discourage people from adopting pets from the animal shelter, dooming them to euthanasia.

County Commissioner Gary Burns said after the meeting the decision was a matter of economics to help cover the cost of veterinarians working with the county to have pets at the animal shelter fixed.

"I understand their concerns," he said. "We're going to explore different options."

The commissioners court voted last week to increase the spaying and neutering fees beginning Jan. 1. Bain Cate with the Victoria County Health Department said income from the higher fees will be passed to the veterinarians who conduct the service for the animal shelter.

He said the new fees are still about half of what individuals would pay if they brought their pets to a veterinarian on their own.

The current spaying and neutering fees for dogs are based on whether the animal falls in the "small," "medium" or "large category. Beginning Jan. 1, it will be based on the dog's actual weight.

For instance, a person adopting a "small" dog now would pay $50 to have it spayed or neutered. That spaying fee will increase to $65 for a female dog weighing 25 pounds or less.

The cost of having a cat spayed will jump from $45 to $60 next year.

Schneider asked the commissioners court to reconsider its action.

"We're very disappointed that you chose to add an extra $15 spay and neuter fee to the cost of animals being adopted from animal control," she said. "As I understand it, this is a voluntary add-on since the vets take it on the chin to help animal control and the vets did not request it."

Burns said he has asked the person who applies for grants for the county to try to find money that might ease the effects of the higher spaying and neutering fees.

"We have to kind of take care of our veterinarians," he said. "If they're losing money on it, they're going to reach a point where they're going to say to heck with it."

The best answer is to have responsible pet owners who will have their animals fixed before they become a problem, Burns said.



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