TRENTON - New Jersey's specialty license plate supporting the state's
low cost spaying and neutering program has a new look that should
be familiar to loyal readers of newspaper comic strips.
its first redesign since its issuance in 1994, the Animal Friendly
plate now features characters from New Jersey cartoonist Patrick
McDonnell's popular comic strip Mutts
strip, which currently appears in more than 450 newspapers worldwide
and is distributed by King Features Syndicate, follows the adventures
of a dog, Earl, and a cat, Mooch, who get their charm from acting
more like people than pets. Earl and Mooch give readers a glimpse
of the world from their point of view.
purchase of Animal Friendly license plates generates much needed
support for our low cost spaying and neutering program," said
Clifton R. Lacy, M.D., Commissioner of the New Jersey Department
of Health and Senior Services.
to Mr. McDonnell's generous gift of his time and extraordinary talent,
and the leadership of the Domestic Companion Animal Council, we
have increased resources to reduce the proliferation of stray and
unwanted pets in our state," the Commissioner added.
Animal Friendly license plates cost $50 each with 80% used to reimburse
veterinarians for spaying and neutering surgeries performed on licensed
pets adopted from an eligible shelter, pound or non-profit animal
adoption referral agency and pets owned by persons participating
in certain public assistance programs. Other than occasional advertising
projects, such as toll-plaza signs recently installed on the New
Jersey Turnpike, all funds from the sale of the Animal Friendly
plates go to veterinarians. No administrative costs are funded from
license plate sales.
state's low cost spaying and neutering program began in 1985, and
to date has supported more than 150,000 surgeries. In SFY 2001,
the program supported 11,853 surgeries and the average reimbursement
per surgery was $86. Pet owners co-pay either $10 or $20 for their
pet's surgery, depending on the family's income status. In addition
to the license plate sales, the program receives financial support
from a $3 fee on every non-neutered dog license issued in the state.
the past eight years, more than 34,250 Animal Friendly plates have
been sold resulting in $2.4 million in revenue for the spaying and
neutering program. Funding from new plates and renewals (a $10 annual
fee) now averages nearly $300,000 per year.
addition to reducing the numbers of stray and unwanted pets, the
low cost spaying and neutering program is also intended to reduce
costs to municipalities and the non-profit humane agencies organized
to care for these animals. The Department estimates the costs involved
from pickup, impoundment, and euthanasia of stray dogs and cats
is greater than $7 million annually.
Jersey was the first state in the nation to aggressively address
the pet overpopulation problem with an innovative statewide spaying
and neutering program. Currently, 216 veterinary hospitals in New
Jersey participate. Since the state initiated its program, there
has been a 25% reduction in the number of dogs and cats impounded,
and a 41% reduction in euthanasia at pounds and shelters.
new Animal Friendly license plates featuring characters from Mutts
are on sale now at all Motor Vehicle Services agencies, or can be
ordered over the phone by calling 1-888-486-3339 (609-292-6500 from
out of state) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
McDonnell, who created Mutts in 1994, has won both critical acclaim
for his comic strip and personal recognition for his philanthropic
work on behalf of animal protection organizations. He has received
the comic book industry's esteemed Harvey Award for "Best Syndicated
Strip," the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award and
"Best Comic Strip of the Year Award," and Germany's Max
and Moritz "International Cartoonist of the Year" award.
addition, Mr. McDonnell has twice received the Ark Trust's Genesis
Award for outstanding contribution to animal protection by a cartoonist.
A dedicated advocate for animal protection, he has worked with the
Humane Society of the United States and the North Shore Animal League
to create a special series of Mutts "Shelter Stories"
strips to help raise awareness of the plight of animals in shelters
and promote pet adoption. He also often partners with animal shelters
and their mobile units to help local pets find homes during his
book signing appearances across the country. In recognition of his
many contributions to animal protection, the members of the Humane
Society of the United States appointed Mr. McDonnell to serve on
the organization's board of directors in 2000.
and his wife, Karen, reside in New Jersey with their dog, Earl,
and their cat, Meemow.
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