Taos Bark

Governor nixes bipartisan pet food tax aimed at raising funds for spay, neuter services


Despite support from across the state for spay and neuter pet manufacturer tax bill House Bill 64, including bipartisan passage in the Senate and House with overwhelming approval from our New Mexico counties, towns and animal advocates, the bill failed to get approval from the governor.

The bill only needed the governor's signature to pass into law. However, Gov. Susana Martinez made the decision to not sign and vetoed the bill March 1.

The bill levied a fee on pet food, with proceeds destined to cover the costs of spay and neuter programs around the state.

Many of you can appreciate the work and immense effort it takes to get a bill through each legislative entity. The will of the people prevailed, and our legislators heard and acquiesced to our needs.

Yes, it is a disappointment. Animal bills are very hard to get through both the House and Senate. Through the last few years with the work of strong animal organizations and advocates, a positive difference has been made.

Animal bills are being introduced every legislative session and are becoming laws. We will introduce this bill at next year's 90-day legislative session. These longer sessions that occur every other year are good for animal bills.

Animal Protection of New Mexico (apnm.org) is working hard to keep this bill alive and says, "This mechanism is working extremely well in other states, and New Mexico deserves to have this solution, too."

"We need affordable access to spay-neuter services in order to begin to solve our vast animal overpopulation. Let's keep up the commitment to fight for and remember the tens of thousands of dogs and cats in New Mexico's animal shelters that need us to keep fighting for this cost-saving, life-saving measure."

Perhaps if our governor was to spend a few days or even a few hours observing our dogs and cats getting euthanized, it would become more apparent that lives were being taken. On a less emotional level the Taos Bark asks, "How does it make sense that it is OK to spend taxpayers' and donors' money on massive euthanasia, but is OK to veto a bill that would bring money into our state for spay and neuter, thus creating less killing in our shelters"?

On to a new subject, news stories are reporting that some dog food is testing positive for pentobarbital. Party Animal Pet Food is asking for those test results, and "out of an abundance of caution" is recalling the two lots of dog food sold nationwide. The company is also sending cans of its dog foods to an independent lab for testing.

How would this drug, used to euthanize animals, find its way into pet food? The suggestion is the pet food contains meat from previously euthanized animals (not cows).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to pet owners in mid-February about the contamination in dog foods packaged by The J.M. Smucker Company.

On its website, FDA noted:

After learning about positive pentobarbital results in certain cans of Gravy Train dog food, J.M. Smucker withdrew various canned dog food products from its Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Ol' Roy, and Skippy brands.• The FDA's preliminary evaluation of the testing results of Gravy Train samples indicates that the low level of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is unlikely to pose a health risk to pets. However, pentobarbital should never be present in pet food and products containing any amount of pentobarbital are considered to be adulterated.

How did the contamination occur?

One theory is that the remains of animals euthanized at animal shelters using pentobarbital might end up in dog food. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states, on its website: "Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year… Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats)."

Are shelters selling the euthanized animals? Do a few (or more than a few) animals end up in pet food?

It might surprise some dog owners to know that dog meat has been used in dog food. This practice was relatively common until the late 1990s. Even today there are no laws preventing man's best friend from ending up in dog food.

Pretty disgusting to think that this can be happening. It is another example of what can happen if we have too many animals in our shelters.

It appears we're looking at a situation where all the parties, government animal shelters, veterinarians, pet food-rendering plants, pet food companies, and the FDA, know exactly what's going on, and say nothing, or pretend surprise when a new case of dogs eating drug-poisoned dog meat shows up.

We need to become more educated and aware that there are despicable practices in the feeding of our beloved animals.

Save the date: Stray Hearts Animal Shelter Radiothon

March 22, all day, KNCE 93.5 FM 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Our shelter's biggest fundraiser of the year. Call in and support our animals. Help these beautiful souls have a great quality of life. Power to the paws!

Have a pet or animal tip? Email taosbark@gmail.com or call (575) 613-3448.