CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) --The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the recipients of the animal spay/neuter grants at the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga. The grants supports low cost spay/neuter programs in Tennessee and are funded through "Animal Friendly" license plate sales.

"This is a great program that not only helps control the number of unwanted animals but it also provides important animal and public health benefits," said Ken Givens, Commissioner.

Givens added, "Every dollar the agency receives goes directly to spay and neuter services. Citizens can be assured that their money is going directly to the mission of the license plate."

Every "Animal Friendly" license plate sale contributes more than $15 to fund the grants. This year, $96,000 was awarded to a total of 48 different non-profit animal care and rescue organizations and government agencies. The grant amounts ranged from $1,000 to $2,500. The total funds are less than previous years, due mainly to fewer people renewing their "Animal Friendly" license plates. Last year, more than 2,300 animals benefited from "Animal Friendly" funds.

"The 'Animal Friendly' license plate grant program provides funds for communities to help reduce the number of unwanted animals," said Guy Bilyeu, Humane Educational Society Executive Director.

Bilyeu added, "Spaying and neutering your pets not only eliminates unwanted litters, but also prevents diseases and can increase a pet's lifespan." 

Reducing the number of unwanted animals also helps reduce cases of animal cruelty, starvation and lowers the instances of disease.