Gertrude Maxwell Finds a Creative Solution to Encourage Spay/Neuter

Update May 5, 2008:  Gertrude Maxwell’s dream has come true. Her bill has passed the Florida state legislature, and Governor Charlie Crist is expected to sign it.

The bill creates a non-profit agency within the state Department of Agriculture to raise money that will be funneled to shelters and animal welfare organizations for spay/neuter and other programs to reduce the need for euthanasia.

For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below. 

Original report: Gertrude Maxwell, 96, has persisted with a plan, a dream really, to reduce numbers of unwanted pets and euthanasia rates.

Her plan is now a bill before the Florida legislature. H.B. 219/S.B. 1994, the Gertrude Maxwell Save a Pet Act.

In fact, today the House bill has passed the Agribusiness Committee and is now before the Environment & Natural Resources Council. Under this bill the state Department of Agriculture will create a non-profit called the Gertrude Maxwell Save A Pet Direct Support Organization.

The non-profit will be under contract to the Dept. The Dept. will appoint the Board of Directors for the non-profit which can include Dept. employees and will also likely include representatives of humane societies and other animal welfare organizations, animal control and other officials. The Dept will manage the contract and approve the non-profit’s articles of incorporation and bylaws and its budget. The Dept. will audit the non-profit annually.

The non-profit, though, will receive funding only through fundraising from businesses, foundations and other organizations, individuals and estates. Ms. Maxwell will provide the funding herself for the first year.

Basically, the non-profit will provide money for "preventing animal cruelty, assisting pet overpopulation management, providing grants to animal shelters for spaying and neutering, and reducing the need for euthanasia of animals."

The non-profit will be able to use the facilities, property and personnel services of the Dept.

It’s a way to bring animal welfare advocates, public shelters, animal control and state officials together to solve this problem, to stop the killing. Citizens donating funds to a state managed non-profit that is required to send the money to shelters for spay/neuter and for programs to reduce overpopulation, euthanasia and cruelty. A community effort.

The Gertrude Maxwell Save a Pet Act is sponsored by Rep. Carl Domino. Sen. Jeff Atwater is co-sponsor.

Ms. Maxwell goal is to reduce the high euthanasia rate in Florida. 800,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in Florida each year.

She also makes the point spay/neuter costs between $20 and $70 per animal. It costs $100 to impound, shelter, care for and euthanize an animal.

It is hoped with funds available for spay/neuter program at Florida shelters, there will be fewer animals, less euthanasia and cruelty, and thus less animal control cost.

Click here for a copy of the bill.