A Solution for the Pet Overpopulation in WV – Saving taxpayer dollars and saving lives!   (New statistics for 2016 posted soon)

With twenty one years of work in animal welfare, we have championed many causes but none as critically necessary as our spay/neuter initiative.   SNAPWV is excited to see the WV Spay Neuter Assistance Program finally funded.  WV spends nearly $10 million dollars each year to impound, care for and kill unwanted dogs and cats.   Sadly, the majority of the 40% of shelter animals annually killed are healthy adoptable animals.   WV needs to spend the money on preventing the problem rather than dealing with the aftermath of unwanted dogs and cats. We were successful with the passage of a 2013 bill that established a WV Spay Neuter Fund with the WV Department of Agriculture. The WV S/N fund rules passed in the 2015 session which formally establishes this fund making it viable to receive money and begin its implementation. The benefits go beyond compassion for animals.  It would help save local governments and shelters millions of dollars, assist low income West Virginians to alter their pets and contribute to public safety.

We need help finding a sustainable & reliable funding source for this existing fund.

18,498 Euthanized of 48,050 total intake in 31 counties reporting

23,466 Cat intake with 13,689 Euthanized

28,584 Dog intake with 4,760 Euthanized 65% US & WV households have pets. [Past trends =WV higher pet ownership than US]

$10 million dollars spent annually for animal control throughout West Virginia

$218 is cost per animal housed in a WV shelter.

Source:     Maine’s Animal Welfare Program review for 2014

Other states are working effectively to solve this problem with varying funding solutions. Maine has a population well below ours of 1.3 million.  They adopted a Pet Food fee (surcharge on brands coming into the state) in 2005.

Year (fiscal) Pet Food Fee License Plate Tax Check-off Co Pay for Spay/Neuter Donation Pet Store Fee ME Total
2014 100,000 70,955 21,069 28,675 1,614 17,960 240,273

Maryland passed a law in 2013 using a Pet Food Surcharge adding $100 to each pet food brand being sold in their state. This generated $388,000 in 2014 to $600,000 in 2015 and will increase to over a million dollars per year in a phased in approach. Source [Maryland Spay and Neuter Grants Program Annual Report August 2014]

According to the 2014 US Census estimates, West Virginia has 880,951 households.  Calculating 65% of WV households (572,618) with pets and extrapolating the 2014 U.S. Pet Food Sales number of $27  billion, we estimate the pet food industry had sales of $196 million in West Virginia in 2015.

Data Sources:
2014 Vet Report with 32 Counties Reporting/ two known No Kill not reporting
2015-16 American Pet Product’s Associa­tion National Pet Owners’ Survey
Survey of 37 counties in WV in 2015
(APPA 2014 US Census estimate


US Pet food sales rose 3.2% to 22.26 Billion in 2014 & rose in 2015 to 27.04 Billion. We propose increasing the surcharge on Pet Food brands registered with the WV Dept. of Agriculture as a solution for funding our WV State Spay Neuter Fund. Using the experience of Maine and Maryland, and with the grant from the ASPCA and others, this would be a beginning to help WV save millions of dollars and lives.


Submitted by The Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia