Program Background

The Need Identified

The Maryland Spay/Neuter 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/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, humane societies, 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 1/2 of the cats and 1/3 of the dogs in Maryland’s shelter populations are euthanized for reasons other than owner requested euthanasia.

The intake, housing, and killing 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, and Maryland taxpayers, and low income pet owners.

Follow this link to see the full report:

Task Force Final Report (2012).pdf

The Law

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 (SB 820 / HB 767) to the General Assembly in Maryland.

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. The bill also called for quarterly surveys of 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 grants program is underway.

Senate Bill 820 passed on April 4th 2013 and was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley on May 16th, 2013.

To see more specifics on the voting history of this bill, check out:

OPEN STATES - about MD SB820

General Assembly of Maryland - SB820 (CH0561)

To read the full Senate Bill follow the link:
Senate Bill 820.pdf

To read the Full Statute follow the link: 

Spay and Neuter Program Statute​

The Regulations

As part of Senate Bill 820, the Secretary of Agriculture appointed a Spay and Neuter Advisory Board, to help formulate the regulations and guidelines and to provide funding recommendations to the Secretary. One of the main tasks of the Spay and Neuter Advisory Board was to help MDA formulate the regulations for implementing Senate Bill 820.

The Regulations (.01 — .10, under a new Chapter Code of Maryland [COMAR] 15.01.10 Spay/Neuter Grant Program) explain the requirements for the Spay/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. 

Follow this link to see the Regulations (Spay Neuter Grant Program) on COMAR:


Program Funding

Funding for this program comes wholely 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 increases to $75.00/product and in 2015, the fee is capped at $100/product.