TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– Alley Cat Allies applauds Florida lawmakers and the governor for passing a new law that will increase the state’s capacity for spay and neuter surgeries by expanding the number of veterinarians who can legally perform them. The bill, HB 719, sponsored by Senator Colleen Burton and Representative Sam Killebrew, was strongly supported by Alley Cat Allies and enables veterinarians licensed and in good standing in another jurisdiction to provide dog and cat sterilization and routine preventive wellness services under the supervision of a Florida-licensed veterinarian, as an unpaid volunteer.

“By allowing skilled veterinarians the chance to provide more low-cost spay and neuter services in the state, this law will save cats and kittens from being surrendered to shelters and killed in Florida,” said Coryn Julien, communications director for Alley Cat Allies. “This law is a win for residents, a win for animal shelters and a win for cats. We applaud Florida for taking this innovative step to save the lives of animals.”

The measure will specifically clear the way for help from retired or semi-retired veterinarians who are licensed and in good standing in other states. Florida has a significant population of these veterinarians who spend part of the year in the state.

“This is groundbreaking legislation that will allow a large population of qualified veterinarians to contribute to sterilization efforts throughout Florida, and it could also serve as a model for other states to increase their spay and neuter capacity in future years,” said Robert Weedon, DVM, MPH, who played a key role in advocating for the bill in Florida.

Low cost spay and neuter is a critical component of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the only humane and effective approach to managing outdoor cat populations. TNR reduces shelter intake, reduces the number of cats killed in shelters and reduces calls to animal control agencies, all of which saves taxpayer dollars. In supporting TNR, HB 719 will therefore also be a positive outcome for Florida taxpayers.

TNR is evidence-based sound public policy that benefits cats by improving their health and ending the breeding cycle. It improves residents’ relationships with cats, as they will no longer find kittens outdoors or experience cat mating behaviors such as yowling, spraying and fighting.

The lack of available veterinarians – which communities across the country are currently facing – is a significant impediment to TNR. Clearing the way for more veterinarians to provide low-cost or free spay and neuter services benefits both cats and shelters, as research has shown that spaying and neutering reduces the risk that adopted animals will be returned or relinquished to shelters.

The new law takes effect on July 1, 2023.