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Our Opinion: Licensed to pursue spay, neuter grants

Animal lovers in Missouri not only are making a statement, they are making a difference.

An ongoing grant program to enhance spaying and neutering of pets was promoted Tuesday by Missouri Director of Agricultural Jon Hagler during a visit to the Jefferson City Animal Shelter.

What sets this program apart from other government initiatives is that the costs are covered privately by animal lovers.

Now in its fifth year, the program offers “I’m Pet Friendly” license plates made available through the Missouri Department of Revenue. For each license plate sold, $20 is forwarded to the agriculture agency’s spay/neuter program.

The projected $20,000 in revenue will finance 10 grants, at $2,000 each, in 2013. Since its inception in 2009, the grant program has raised more than $100,000.

Last year, the program awarded 10 grants from among 27 applications.

Applications for the grants may be submitted by “animal shelters, qualifying non-profits and government agencies with current or proposed spay/neuter programs.”

Jefferson City Animal Control Supervisor Karen Jennings said the local shelter has not applied for the state grants in the past. She said non-profits in the state likely have greater need than the local shelter — which is supported by tax revenue and an active “Friends” group.

Nothing in the grant guidelines would preclude the city from applying, according to Rachel Heimericks, office manager for the state agency’s Animal Care Facilities Program. A three-member committee evaluates the grants, due this year by a Feb. 15 deadline.

The city’s failure to apply for grant funding raises an interesting question. Is the city being magnanimous by deferring to operations in greater need or missing an opportunity to seek more money?

How would you answer?

From our perspective, the purchasers of “Pet Friendly” plates support humane treatment, which is advanced by spay/neuter programs that reduce the population and proliferation of unwanted animals.

If the local operation has sufficient resources to meet that goal, let less fortunate groups compete to bolster spay/neuter programs.

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