Dog and cat sterilization program reinstated after an influx of donations and a new tax check-off

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin and Georgia Veterinary Medical Association President, Dr. Mike Younker, hosted a dog sterilization procedure today to alert the public that the hugely successful program was reinstated September 1st.  The program was on a hiatus after public demand for surgical procedures exceed donated dollars in the program.

Today’s procedure was performed on seven-month-old Lucie, a Doberman mix, adopted by Fayette County Deputy Sheriff Tommy Nations after being designated a stray animal.  Dr. Younker performed the surgery at his veterinary facility, Lafayette Center Animal Hospital, in Fayetteville, GA.

For the past three years specialty license plates have been sold to fund the dog and cat surgical procedures that operates without state funds.  A  new license plate with a state income tax check-off for the ’06 tax year is expected to fund the spay and neuter program well into the future.

“Veterinarians across the state believe in the program,“ says Younker.  “The public wants spay and neuter assistance and that can be achieved by just purchasing a license plate.  This program meets a need and helps in the control of unwanted animals.”

Irvin agrees.

“It’s important that we decrease of the number of unwanted dogs and cats in our state,” Irvin says.  “Our spay/neuter program — supported entirely through the sale of license plates — has been tried, tested and proven to be effective and successful. We want to grow this program so that we can support anyone who wants to get their pet spay or neutered.”

Tuesday’s procedure was performed by Younker at his Lafayette CenterAnimal Hospital, Fayetteville.  All veterinarians in this independent spay and neuter program are allowed to perform three procedures monthly to allow greater participation of animal doctors and pet owners statewide.

“We love our Lucie and we support the spay and neuter program,” Nations says.  “We just hope that the program get can greater support and more animals can be protected.”

Georgians interested in purchasing the specialty spay and neuter license tag can pay a one-time fee of $25 at their local county motor vehicle registration office. Persons with old tags can return them to their tag office for the new specialty plate.  Since January 2006, more than 21,000 spay/neuter license plates have been issued, netting close to $470,000 for  the program.



The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) honored four distinguished Georgians for their contributions to veterinary medicine and animal well-being.

Dr. Steven C. Budsbergreceived the Innovative Veterinary Diets Fido Award for his cutting edge research in small animal orthopedics. Dr. Budsbergdeveloped a computerized research tool that has been adopted by researchers worldwide to study many types of therapy and surgical techniques including total hip replacement. He has been a leader in developing multi-center testing for treatments of orthopedic problems and other innovative testing methods. His innovations and collaborations are widely known and published. He is Coordinator of Clinical Research and teaches orthopedic surgery at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Lee M. Myers received the AVMA Public Service Award for her contributions to public health and regulatory veterinary medicine. Dr. Myers is State Veterinarian and Assistant Commissioner for the Animal Industry Division with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Dr. Myers was instrumental in establishing the Georgia’s Dog and Cat Sterilization Program that funds spay/neuter statewide, enhancing animal cruelty penalties and revising the Georgia Veterinary Practice Act of 2003. Her recent accomplishments are in the area of bioterrorism preparedness and agrosecurity. She is the youngest individual and first female to win this award.

Dr. Clarence A. Rawlings received the American Kennel Club Career Achievement Award for his extraordinary contributions to canine research, particularly in the areas of heartworm disease and minimally invasive soft tissue surgical techniques. As one of the eminent researchers in heartworm disease, Dr. Rawling was one of the first to correlate the symptoms of heartworm disease to the damage done by the parasite. Dr. Rawlings retired in June after serving the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine for thirty years. He will remain active with the university as a mentor and to advance veterinary practices.

Carolyn Danese received the AVMA Humane Award for her exceptional compassion for animals and efforts on behalf of animal welfare. Carolyn is known for her work on the Georgia Animal Protection Act of 2000 which made certain acts of animal cruelty a felony, the Dog and Cat Sterilization Program, the Georgia Veterinary Practice Act of 2003 and other local and national issues. Carolyn is a founding member and President of the Humane Association of Georgia, and also serves as President of the Georgia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. She advocates for veterinary involvement in legislation as the animal experts and the “other family doctor.”

The awards were presented at the General Session of the AVMA Annual Convention in historic Philadelphia on July 24th by AVMA President, Jack O. Walther of Nevada. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. sponsored the ceremony where each of the recipients spoke to the audience of veterinarians from all over the country.


Dekalb County Also Recognizes Advocate’s Role in Helping to Pass Enforceable Legislation in Georgia to Prevent 
Animal Cruelty and Overpopulation

Carolyn Danese

Atlanta, GA July 29, 2002 – Carolyn Danese, who is a founding member and Secretary of the Humane Association of Georgia, has recently received two national awards and a commendation from Dekalb County for her volunteer work on behalf of animals in Georgia.  The awards recognize Danese’s efforts leading to the passage of Georgia’s Animal Protection Act of 2000, which provides felony-level punishment for aggravated cruelty to animals, and to legislation passed in 2002 creating a statewide Dog and Cat Sterilization Program to reduce animal overpopulation.

Danese, a tireless advocate of humane treatment and good animal stewardship, has been a Dekalb resident since 1979.  On 7/23/02, she was commended by the Chief Executive Officer and Board of Commissioners of Dekalb County for her outstanding volunteer service in the prevention of animal cruelty and overpopulation in the community and throughout the state.

On 6/11/02, Danese received the Andrew Heiskell Community Service Award from AOL Time Warner for employees who have made exceptional contributions to public service, equal opportunity and human rights. It is the most distinguished honor the company bestows on its employees. Danese, who was nominated by her peers, is an Analyst in the Marketing Department of Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. in Atlanta.

The National Control Association honored Danese on 6/13/02 for contributions and outstanding action that assist in furthering the positive image of animal control professionals on a local, state and national level. She was nominated for this award by the Dekalb County Police Department, Animal Control Division. Danese, in turn, praises the animal control professionals for being “the unsung heroes in the fight to end animal abuse, neglect and overpopulation.”

Danese credits the success of her efforts to working with diverse groups to find common ground, and to educating people about the link between animal abuse and violence against humans, as well as the social, environmental, health and economic reasons for reducing animal overpopulation. She says she will continue to focus on education, environmental issues and eliminating animal overpopulation.

Danese reminds everyone to Vote “YES” for the “Dog and Cat Sterilization Support Program” on the November 5, 2002 Georgia general ballot and that spay/neuter is a healthy choice for companion animals.

Governor Signs Legislation Paving The Way For License PlateAnimal Advocates from Across the State Gather for Signing CeremonyMacon, GA June 6, 2002 – HAGA members and animal friends from across the state attended a festive ceremony held at the Macon MunicipalAirport to witness Governor Roy Barnes sign HR 264 and HB 945.  These two pieces of legislation, passed by the General Assembly during the 2002 session, allow for a referendum to be placed on the November 2002 general election ballot for voter approval of the Cat and Dog Sterilization License Plate.  If voters approve the referendum, funds from the voluntary purchase of the license plate will fund a low-cost spay/neuter program to be administered by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.About 50 attendees braved hot temperatures and somewhat crowded conditions at the Lowe Aviation Buildingto be present for the historic occasion.  Humane groups which sent representatives included Humane Services of Middle Georgia, Animal Friends of Dekalb County, Greyhounds Galore of Jones County, and Save-a-Life of Monroe County.  Over 20 dogs and cats, many of them rescued animals, were also present.  Included among this number were several of the cats rescued from the Walker Countycrematorium.  The Macon Police Department K-9 Unit sent two officers with their police dogs.  Children from Bibb County Department of Family and Children’s Services enjoyed the learning experience of seeing government in action, as well as making friends with many of the animals present.Senator Robert Brown, who shepherded the license plate legislation through the Georgia Senate, said:  “It’s an opportunity for citizens who are concerned about the animal population to do something about it.  And I’m delighted that there are people who care enough about this issue to pay extra for the tag.”HAGA President Edwina Barnes introduced Governor Barnes and other dignitaries, including Representative Lynmore James who sponsored the legislation.  A reception was held after the ceremony.To learn more about HAGA’s Cat and Dog License Plate Initiative, including ways you can help, click here.