Established by Senate Bill 820 (SB820/HB767) in the Maryland General Assembly's 2013 legislative session, this program was designed to reduce the number of cats and dogs surrendered to and euthanized in shelters across Maryland, by providing grants to local governments and non-profit animal welfare organizations, who will then provide free spay and neuter services to pet dogs and cats of low income Marylanders, and for colonies of feral/community cats. There are three competitive grant opportunities offered annually, for owned pets, feral cats, and capital expenses. The grant window typically opens in early January and closes in late March/early April, and government and non-profit organizations across Maryland are encouraged to apply. More information regarding the grant opportunities can be found here. The program is not taxpayer-funded.
This program does not provide funding directly to individuals. If you are a pet owner seeking services for your dog or cat, please click here to see a list of our active pet programs. If you are seeking programs for unowned/feral cats, please click here to see a list of programs for free roaming cats.
The Need Identified
The Maryland Spay and Neuter Grant Program was conceived and initiated by Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA). Their first step was to meet with a powerful member of the Maryland General Assembly, Speaker of the House, Michael Busch, where they discussed the need for a state spay and neuter program and requested his support. After drafting a white paper outlining the problem and solution, Maryland Votes for Animals—working with the Speaker’s staff—determined that the problem was too complex to design a program without a task force to study the issue and make recommendations. Having Speaker Busch’s support at the very beginning of the process was critical, and he was a strong supporter of the legislation when it was finally introduced.
The Task Force
The Spay and Neuter Task Force was created by an act of the Maryland General Assembly in 2011 (Chapter 266, Senate Bill 639) and signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley.
With leadership provided by Del. Barbara Frush and Sen. Joanne Benson, and made up of representatives from animal control agencies, public and private animal shelters, spay/neuter groups, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Task Force was charged to:
- Collect and review data on the number of spay/neuter services performed each year in the State and the unmet need for the services;
- Review ongoing successful local spay/neuter programs in the State;
- Review spay/neuter programs in other states and identify best practices;
- Review and make recommendations regarding the most appropriate funding mechanism for spay/neuter fund; and
- Make recommendations regarding the establishment of a spay/neuter fund that best meets the needs of the State.
Results of the Task Force’s Final Report confirmed Maryland’s urgent need for a statewide spay/neuter program to reduce shelter intake and euthanasia rates in Maryland.
The Report indicates approximately half of the cats and a third of the dogs in Maryland’s shelter populations are euthanized for reasons other than owner requested euthanasia.
The intake, housing, and euthanasia of these animals is costing Maryland taxpayers millions of dollars, and a statewide spay/neuter program has huge potential to benefit animals in facilities across the state, Maryland taxpayers, and low income pet owners.
Follow this link to see the full report:
Task Force Final Report (2012).pdf
With information gathered by the Task Force Final Report, Maryland Votes for Animals, together with legislators in Maryland, and other groups, developed and introduced Senate Bill 820 (SB820/HB767) to the Maryland General Assembly in the 2013 legislative session.
This bill called for the development of a Spay and Neuter Grants Program that would result in affordable spay and neuter services throughout the state and ultimately reduce shelter intake and euthanasia rates in Maryland. The bill also called for quarterly statistical reports from shelters run by county or municipal governments, or non-profit facilities providing animal control services on behalf of local jurisdictions, to track any changes in intake and euthanasia rates as the Grant Program is underway.
Senate Bill 820 passed on April 4, 2013, and was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on May 16, 2013.
To see more specifics on the voting history of this bill, visit:
OPEN STATES - about MD SB820
General Assembly of Maryland - SB820 (CH0561)
To read the full Senate Bill, visit:
Senate Bill 820.pdf
To read the Full Statute, visit:
Spay and Neuter Program Statute
In the 2022 legislative session, the Spay and Neuter Grant Program was extended for a further 10 years, until September 30, 2032 by Senate Bill 206/House Bill 191.
As part of Senate Bill 820, the MD Secretary of Agriculture appointed a Spay and Neuter Advisory Board (SNAB), to help formulate the regulations and guidelines and to provide funding recommendations to the Secretary. One of the main tasks of the SNAB was to help the MD Department of Agriculture formulate the regulations for implementing Senate Bill 820.
The Regulations (.01 through .10, under a new Chapter Code of Maryland [COMAR] 15.01.10 Spay/Neuter Grant Program) explain the requirements for the Spay and Neuter Grant Program that is established to assist in the reduction of animal shelter overpopulation and cat and dog euthanasia rates, by financing grants to local governments and qualifying animal welfare organizations for programs, on a competitive basis, that will effectively facilitate and promote spay and neuter services for cats and dogs.
The Regulations were adopted June 23, 2014.
To see Regulations 15.01.10.00 (Spay and Neuter Grant Program), visit:
Funding for this program comes wholly from fees paid by the pet food industry. As mandated by SB820, a fee is levied on all pet food companies that sell their product(s) in the state. In the first year, companies paid $50.00/product. In 2014 the fee increased to $75.00/product; and in 2015, the fee increased to $100/product, where it is capped.