Correction: The Nashville Health Department said that the funding did not pay for the spaying, but instead was used to promote the anti-obesity effort that included the neutering campaign. Also it funded the hiring of two animal control officers "for the purpose of increasing animal control presence and enforcement in neighborhoods where we knew there was a loose dog problem."
The Nashville health department issued a press release last year that told residents in one neighborhood that they could get free pet spaying, neutering, rabies shots and other services as part of $7.5 million grant from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work, which is part of the Public Health and Prevention Fund that will soar to $2 billion in 2015 under Obamacare. The program was initially funded by the Obama stimulus initiative.
In the release, the city said, “This targeted effort aims to address residents’ concerns that identify stray dogs as a barrier to outdoor physical activity.” It concluded, “the Nashville Public Health Department Communities Putting Prevention To Work campaign is funded fully by the Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”
A recent Nashville Tennessean story said that the funding might not be continued, but that the city’s Humane Association would fund the vet services. A Humane Association official said the funding has been cut off.
Explaining the federally-funded program, the paper said, “it wasn’t fair to ask residents to get outside and walk for fitness when they had to worry about stray dogs nipping at their heels.”
The fund has been threatened by the GOP. Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee voted to repeal the program. The Republican House budget would also kill the program. And Speaker John Boehner wants to use some of the money from the program to pay for lowering student loan interest rates, a plan President Obama has threatened with a veto.
Democrats have praised the fund for covering expenses such as cancer screenings for women. But Republicans say the money is being used as a slush fund to prop up support for Obamacare.
Congressional investigators and outside groups are scouring the grant program for embarrassing uses, and the Nashville spay and neuter program is just the latest. The federal website touting the Nashville program adds that it is also spending cash on bike sharing programs and to provide corner markets with fresh veggies. It doesn’t directly mention the spaying and neutering program but does state: “Increase the safety of Nashville's outdoor environment for community members to engage in physical activity.”