News Column

First State Paw Draw: Design Delaware's New Animal Welfare License Plate

June 13, 2014



DOVER, Del., June 13 -- Delaware Department of Health and Social Services issued the following news release:

Today Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Rita Landgraf and Senator David McBride launched the First State Paw Draw, an animal welfare license plate art contest at Legislative Hall. Sponsored by the DHSS Office of Animal Welfare (OAW), the First State Paw Draw seeks artwork to redesign and update the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicle vanity license plate for animal lovers. Entries will be accepted from Delaware residents through August 30, 2014.

The Animal Welfare License Plate and an associated fund for spay and neuter services were created in 1995 with legislation sponsored by Sen. McBride. While low-cost spay and neuter services are available in the state, the procedure can still be cost-prohibitive for some families. The State Spay & Neuter Program, created through legislation in 2006, allows income-eligible applicants to have their cat or dog spayed or neutered for a $20 co-pay per pet and reimburses veterinarians for their services. The Animal Welfare License Plate Fund supplements that program and is used for pet populations not served through the State Spay & Neuter Program. Of each $50 license plate sold, $35 will be used to provide spay and neuter surgeries for community cat colonies, to host "spay days" for neighborhoods or specific breeds, and to supplement spay and neuter funds for Delaware shelters or other special programs determined by the Animal Welfare License Plate Fund Committee.

"Spaying and neutering cats and dogs is critical to reducing companion animal over-population and euthanasia," Landgraf said. "Getting our pets 'fixed' reduces pet homelessness and improves their quality of life."

Spaying female cats and dogs reduces their chances of developing pyrometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer, and other reproductive system cancers, according to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Male neutered pets have less risk of getting testicular cancer and possibly prostate cancer. In addition, dogs and cats that are spayed and neutered are less likely to mark their territories with urine, have less aggression, bite less, roam less, and bark and howl less.

With four-legged guests wagging their tails, Sen. McBride announced Senate Concurrent Resolution 58 at Thursday's event to commence the contest to redesign the vanity plate. The Humane Society for the United States also attended to present the senator with the national "Humane State Legislator Award" for his commitment to and support of animal-friendly legislation in Delaware.

"Senator McBride has been a longtime friend of Delaware's animals, and it is with great appreciation that we recognize his efforts and commitment," said Arnold Baer, managing director of state affairs for the HSUS. "We look forward to working with him as he continues to make a difference for both the animals and his constituents."

Sen. McBride said, "With the establishment of the animal welfare license plate fund in the 1990s, and the state spay and neuter program in 2006, we helped 16,000 animals owned by 7,000 Delaware citizens who otherwise may not have had access to these services. Senate Concurrent Resolution 58 builds awareness of spay/neuter programs to reduce unwanted litters of cats and dogs, and the number of animals destined for Delaware shelters and rescue groups."

OAW Executive Director Hetti Brown expects the contest and newly designed license plate to promote several spay and neuter programs while giving Delawareans the opportunity to show how much dogs and cats mean to them.

"The contest is a good opportunity to both update the license plate and grow awareness that the program exists," Brown said. "And, by purchasing the new plate, Delawareans can display their love of animals."

Delaware has made significant strides in reducing euthanasia in animal shelters and curbing pet over-population. With the establishment of the animal welfare license plate fund in the 1990s, and the state spay and neuter program in 2006, the state raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for critical population control programs.

The First State Paw Draw contest runs from June 12 to August 30, 2014. Entrants must be Delaware residents with valid Delaware addresses. For contest details and entry form, visit dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/index.html or call OAW at 302-255-4620. The new animal welfare license plate will be available for purchase starting this fall through the Delaware DMV.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

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