Delaware offers programs to save money for dog/cat owners

DOVER — Getting a pet neutered can strain a budget.

According to the cost to neuter a dog can range from $50 to $170, depending on its size and where the owner lives. A cat can cost more than $70.

Spaying a female generally costs more than neutering a dog.

Delaware has programs to help pet owners with the cost. On Friday the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare announced it is streamlining the application process for the State Spay & Neuter Program.

The goal is to increase access for qualified Delaware pet owners, officials said.

The state’s “Fixed and Fabulous” campaign includes a new user-friendly website and more flexible payment options.

The campaign promotes pet sterilization and vaccination, pet health and the elimination of unwanted animals.

The Spay & Neuter Program provides low-cost spay or neuter, rabies and vaccination services to cats and dogs of income-eligible applicants for $20 per animal. Those who qualify may have up to three pets spayed or neutered every fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30.

The program also provides grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Delaware to assist in the sterilization of adoptable animals, and to extend sterilization and rabies vaccination services to communities.

All surgeries are completed by a licensed veterinarian at one of 39 participating clinics. The new website,, provides an application form, a list of surgery providers and details about the state program.

Those without access to the Internet may request a paper application by calling the (302) 255-4620.

Also, participants now may pay the per-pet co-pay directly to the veterinary clinic or hospital when the pet is dropped off for surgery. Previously, pet owners had to submit the co-pay upon application to the animal welfare office in the form of a money order or bank-certified check. That presented challenges for people who had difficulty affording the fees associated with the purchase of money orders or securing transportation to a bank, according to Friday’s press release.

To qualify for the Spay & Neuter Program, applicants must be:
• A Delaware resident 18 years of age or older;
• Own a companion animal from Delaware;
• And receive benefits through one of the following programs: General Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Delaware Medicaid and Medical Assistance, Women, Infants, and Children Program), Social Security Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability, or Veterans Administration Disability Compensation with disability rating of 50 percent or higher.

The program is funded by the Spay & Neuter Program Fund, which generates money through a $3 surcharge on all rabies vaccinations administered to cats and dogs in Delaware and $20 per-pet co-pays submitted by eligible applicants. Funds paid to the Spay & Neuter Program are used to subsidize pre-surgical medical evaluations, spay or neuter surgeries, rabies vaccinations, and routine post-surgical care by participating surgery providers.

Female dogs and cats are spayed by removing their reproductive organs, and male dogs and cats are neutered by removing their testicles. In both cases, the surgery is performed while the pet is under anesthesia.

Female cats can breed three times a year and have an average of four kittens per litter. Dogs can breed twice a year and have an average of 6-10 puppies per litter. Female cats can breed as young as four months old and dogs as young as six months.

The Delaware SPCA says it’s OK to spay/neuter puppies and kittens when they’re 8 to 10 weeks old and weigh at least 2 pounds.

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