Summer 2009 Newsletter

A New Beginning for New Mexico's Spay/Neuter License Plate

By Leslie King

Starting July 1, $25 of the $37 paid by New Mexicans for the special spay/neuter license plate will go to spaying/neutering programs in the purchaser's home county. That's compared to $6 of the $37 that went to programs in years past.

Additionally, New Mexico residents can now be confident that proceeds from the license plate sales are effectively reaching the programs the plates were designed to help.

Credit for fixing the way funds are distributed goes to State Sen. Mary Jane García (D-Doña Ana), freshman Representative Bill B. O'Neill (D-Albuquerque), and other legislators dedicated to improving the lives of New Mexico's animals, as well as to Animal Protection Voters (APV), a statewide, non-profit animal advocacy group.

Senate Bill 185, signed by Governor Bill Richardson April 7, amends language in the original spay/neuter license plate law, increasing the percentage of the purchase price going to local programs and streamlining the money's distribution process. It also amends language in the state's Animal Sheltering Act to specify that spay/neuter programs in a county will receive the funds directly attributable to the number of special license plates purchased in that county.

Also, the funds now will be distributed by the Animal Sheltering Board, a state-level regulatory board whose members have expertise in animal welfare issues and are appointed by the governor.

The original spay/neuter license plate law was passed before the existence of an appropriate animal-related state fund to which proceeds could be directed. Consequently, the distribution formula diverted 53% of each plate's purchase price to the State Road Fund, with another $10 taken by the Motor Vehicle Department as an administrative fee. The rest of the proceeds were lumped with other funds the state sends periodically to local governments, hampering access to the balance that remained for spay/neuter programs.

García worked to draft the new language, with help from APV, and sponsored the bill in the Senate, where it passed with no opposition. O'Neill carried the bill in the House, where it also passed with no opposition. All the legislators who saw the need to revamp the license plate law deserve a huge round of applause from the animal welfare community in New Mexico. One way, perhaps the best way, to show your thanks is to purchase a spay/neuter plate.

If you haven't yet purchased your own spay/neuter license plate, this year is the time to do it, in order to maximize the percentage of your purchase that goes to pay/neuter programs in your county.

The bright yellow plates with a blue paw print over a red silhouette of New Mexico feature the message, "Don't Litter, Spay - Neuter." The design was created by Josh Leach when he was a design student at Albuquerque's Art Center Design College. They were introduced in 2006 and, since then, over 300 New Mexicans have purchased them.

Their purpose is twofold: to educate people about the pet overpopulation problem facing New Mexico; and to help fund spay/neuter surgeries for dogs and cats around the state. Everyone can agree that enhanced spay/neuter programs at local levels will help reduce the number of animals euthanized each year and will ease the financial woes of overburdened local animal control and public safety budgets.

The spay/neuter license plates may be ordered from the Motor Vehicle Department. Order forms can be obtained at an MVD office or downloaded from the MVD website at: The MVD form may also be downloaded on Animal Protection of New Mexico's website at:

If you'd like to help promote New Mexico's spay/neuter license plate in your community, full-color posters are available free of charge from Animal Protection of New Mexico (contact

Leslie King, Community Programs Manager of Animal Protection of New Mexico and Animal Protection Voters, may be reached at 505-265-2322, extension 26 or email:

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