The following letter by Becky Robinson was given in response to legislation being considered by the Hawaiian House Committee on Agriculture on a bill to create a fund for the Spaying and Neutering of Animals.
The Honorable Mark J. Hashem, Chair
House Committee on Agriculture
Hawaii State Capitol
415 South Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Chairman Hashem and Members:
On behalf of Alley Cat Allies and our thousands of supporters in Hawaii, I am writing to urge your support of SB 2837, “Relating to the Spaying and Neutering of Animals.” If enacted into law, SB 2837 would establish a spay and neuter special fund, allow funds from an income tax check-off to be deposited into the fund, and establish an advisory committee to help establish eligibility criteria and procedures for disbursements from the special fund, prioritizing funding to organizations that specialize in Trap-Neuter-Release (AKA Trap-Neuter-Return or TNR). SB 2837 was introduced by Senator Karl Rhoads, passed the Senate unanimously and is currently assigned to the House Agriculture Committee.
Alley Cat Allies is the leading international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of all cats. We have promoted sound and compassionate programs for cats since our founding in 1990. We work with lawmakers, shelters, and the public to change attitudes, launch new programs, and advance lifesaving laws and policies that serve the best interests of cats.
Preventing new births of domestic cats and dogs is proven to be the effective and humane way to manage animal populations. Therefore, sterilization is the linchpin that makes possible the bigger goals of public health, animal protection, and effective population management. The availability of a spaying and neutering fund will save lives and reduce the cost by millions of dollars to Hawaii taxpayers for the intake, housing, and killing of animals.
Low-cost spay and neuter programs are very effective at increasing the sterilization rate among pet cats in lower-income households. These programs also benefit community cats, also called stray or feral cats, as part of TNR, whereby unowned, free-roaming cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, eartipped, and returned to their outdoor homes to live and thrive.
SB 2837 will significantly reduce one of the greatest barriers low-income owners face to neutering their pet: cost. A peer-reviewed scientific study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that while most pet cats are already neutered, the neuter rate is significantly lower for pet cats living in households earning $35,000 or less annually. The lower-income owners who were interviewed primarily cited high cost as the reason for not neutering their cats. Providing 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.
There are also a substantial number of stray and community cats who benefit from spay and neuter programs. Sterilizing these cats prevents unchecked breeding, eliminates nuisance behaviors associated with mating, and improves their health.
Increased accessibility of spay and neuter services is a win for citizens, a win for animal shelters, and a win for cats. For these reasons, we urge you to support SB 2837.
President and Founder, Alley Cat Allies
 Chu K, Anderson WM, Rieser MY, Population Characteristics and Neuter Status of Cats Living in Households in the United States, J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2009; 234: 1023-1030.