- Associated Press - Sunday, January 7, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Two New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a special tax on pet food to raise money for spaying and neutering, but critics are concerned the additional fee could be passed on to consumers and deter pet food companies from doing business with New Mexico.

Democratic State Reps. Carl Trujillo and Debbie Rodella sponsored a bill that would impose an increase on commercial pet food registration fees from $2 per label to $100 per label of food each year, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported .

The increase would raise over $800,000 to help impoverished citizens pay to have their dogs and cats spayed and neutered, Trujillo said. He estimates the fund could pay for services for some 8,000 to 10,000 pets annually.

“This is a needed tool to combat an overpopulation of dogs and cats in the state,” he said. It also will cut down on the number of pet euthanizations, he added.

But Laura Moore, owner of The Critters and Me pet store in Santa Fe, has concerns.

“This is either going to increase the price of dog and cat food or manufacturers are going to want to stop supplying these foods to New Mexico,” she said. “There has to be a better way to facilitate spay and neuter services than having bureaucrats get involved in it.”

Robert Likins, vice-president of government affairs for the Virginia-based nonprofit Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, an animal welfare advocacy group, agrees. Likins said in an email that the bill “is a tax that may be in search of a justification” and will “disproportionately punish smaller businesses and less wealthy pet owners that are less able to absorb the cost.”

This year’s bill has a five-year sunset clause designed to give state leaders time to see if the bill is successful, Trujillo said. He does not think the bill needs the approval of Gov. Susana Martinez to be considered since it is raising revenues for the state in what is planned as a 30-day session centered around the state’s budget.

Several other states, including Maine and Maryland, have passed similar legislation to raise funds for spaying and neutering services.

Efforts to reach Rodella by phone were unsuccessful. She did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment for this story.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com


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