Cruz Bill to “STOP” Stray Population

by The Office of Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz
Stripes Guam

June 20, 2017 – Hagåtña - With nearly 25,000 stray dogs roaming our island, Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz is calling for a humane solution to Guam’s animal overpopulation problem. His newest measure may do just that. The Solution to the Overpopulation of Pets (STOP) Fund, created through Bill No. 120-34 (COR), would fund low-cost sterilization for Guam’s animals by establishing an affordable, accessible spay/neuter program on Guam.

“I know that we face big problems on Guam. But, at the end of the day, people want to know that government can at least do the small things,” said Cruz who introduced his measure, along with co-sponsor Senator Régine Biscoe Lee, this morning. “If your child has to walk to school with a stick in her hand to protect herself from strays dogs, government has failed you and we can do better.”

Cruz, a founding member of the Humane Society of Guam, introduced his measure in response to the clear public health hazard that an unchecked stray animal population poses. With the island’s only government-contracted animal shelter, Guam Animals In Need (GAIN), consistently operating at full capacity, the need for sustained funding to address the rampant stray population is significant to Guam’s welfare. Moreover, given the long-term cost to impound, shelter, provide medical care, or euthanize animals, investing in affordable spay/neuter programs provides a more cost-effective use of currently available animal care on Guam.

Bill No. 120-34 (COR) would generate funding for the spay/neuter program by raising the cost of each entry permit from its previous fee of $60—established nearly twenty years ago—to $175 for every dog or cat entering Guam. The measure mandates that the STOP Fund be exclusively used to support the operations of GAIN for the sole purpose of creating, administering, and maintaining an island-wide spay and neuter program for dogs and cats. To ensure the program remains affordable and accessible, the shelter would prioritize members of the public who present either an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, a Medicaid card, or a low-income housing voucher. Moreover, Bill No. 120-34 (COR) further allows the shelter to develop a supplementary voucher system with participating private veterinary clinics.

While spay/neutering programs would help reduce the introduction of new strays, sterilization has also been medically proven to save lives of domesticated animals. According to North Shore Animal League America, spay/neutering will extend the lifespan of dogs by up to three years and cats up to five years. The American Veterinary Medical Association also reports that sterilization further reduces the risk of pets developing reproductive cancer—which would cost five to ten times more to treat than a spay/neutering procedure.

“This bill, coupled with our shared commitment to education, is about keeping our communities safe,” said Cruz. “By partnering with an established nonprofit like GAIN, we can humanely end or significantly reduce our stray animal problem in the near future.”

For more information, please contact the Office of Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz at 477-2520.

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