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>Vouchers lower price of neutering pets

Although low-cost spay and neuter programs have been available for years, New York State recently amended an animal-control bill to allow low-income applicants to receive vouchers that lower the price of the procedure to a $20 co-pay.

Now, state residents with proof that they receive food stamps, temporary assistance, Medicaid, Social Security or are part of low-income housing programs can apply for the vouchers through the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Karen Ogiela of the Second Chance Shelter said that veterinarians have charged as much as $600 for the procedures, which usually costs about $150 for small dogs and $65 for cats.

"We're in the height of kitten season. . . . We're literally up to our eyeballs in cats," she said.

Kelly McCartney of the Buffalo City Animal Shelter said that as many as 10 people per week take advantage of the voucher but that interest has tapered off despite the high number of kittens and puppies in local shelters.

Previously, similar programs included $45-$65 costs for spaying and neutering pets at shelters.

Applicants can contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets for an application at (888) 669-0870.

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