To make the California Pet Lover license plate become a reality, the Associated Press reports that backers have to pre-sell 7,500 plates with the imprint “Spay & Neuter Saves Lives.” Due before June 12, only about 4,000 plates have been sold thus far. Adding insult to injury, it took the better portion of 21 months to make these sales. Why?
For starters, you cannot access it from the California Department of Motor Vehicles website. If you are looking for special interest license plates there, you can only find the environmental, memorial, Arts Council, Coastal Commission, collegiate, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite Foundation, firefighters, Child Health and Safety Fund, Olympic Training Center, and veterans’ organization plates. The only way to currently pre-order the California pet lover license plates is via the website for the California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, Inc. Those willing to pay $50 can reserve a spot on the pre-order list, which means that they will get a license plate if the program fulfills all the requirements.
Then again, could potential plate buyers be balking at the donation rates? After all, the proceeds from the license plate are to establish and fund — permanently — spay and neuter programs in California. With more than one million dogs and cats being processed annually by Golden State animal shelters, and more than 50 percent being euthanized, it stands to reason that feline and canine birth control is the call of the hour. Yet animal lovers may recall that Georgia spay and neuter license plate fee spending led to an uproar last year. WSB reported that “lawmakers decided to spend most of the money from the tag elsewhere.” With a tag fee of $35 annually, only about one third of the money benefited animals; the rest went into the state’s general fund.
This would not be the case with the California pet lover’s license plate. Buyers of sequential plates pay $50 for the initial order, of which $17.32 is to go to the DMV and $32.68 would go to the fund. Thereafter, 100 percent of renewal fees go to the fund. For those drivers with personalized plates, only $40 from renewal fees goes to the fund. Yet even fund operators warn that the “breakdown of fees is approximate until plates are produced.” In other words, there is a chance that the final figures will be less favorable to the spay and neuter programs. Of course, even a small amount of money is better than none. If the 2012 grant distribution figures from the California Coastal Commission are any indication, the whale tail license plate has generated enough money to approve 14 grants totaling $186,000.
Will California finally advertise its best kept secret — the largely unpublicized California Pet Lover license plate — and generate stable funding for the state’s spay and neuter programs? June 2012 will tell.