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Stamp Out Overpopulation

By: Alex Lieber

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The effort to stamp out pet overpopulation has received a boost from – stamps. The U.S. Postal Service is issuing two new stamps to promote the spaying and neutering of pets. The stamps go on sale Sept. 20, 2002.

A group called the Prevent A Litter Coalition waged a 5-year campaign to persuade the postal service to issue stamps highlighting the need to spay and neuter pets. Every year, 4 to 6 million dogs and cats are euthanized because of a lack of good homes.

The Postal Service approved the stamp late last year after receiving more than 200,000 letters in support of the cause, including those from celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Bob Barker and Mary Tyler Moore. It also received widespread congressional support.

Each stamp will show the image of a dog or cat and the words, "Spay/Neuter." The animals that will soon grace the mail are actual pets. One is a shelter puppy named Kirby and the other is a shelter kitten named Samantha. Both were adopted by loving families.

Why so much effort for a stamp? It's a great way to promote a cause. The government will print 120 million of these stamps – divided equally between Kirby and Samantha – to make people aware of the problem with pet overpopulation.

Getting approval was a major victory because the number of socially aware stamps has been dropping. The "Spay/Neuter" stamp is only one of two socially aware stamps to be issued in 2002. (The other will highlight the importance of mentoring children.) Because of the number of worthy causes and interesting topics, getting a stamp approved is a lengthy and difficult process.

Almost all subjects that appear on stamps come from suggestions made by the public. All suggestions – about 40,000 each year – are presented to the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Postmaster General. Suggestions should be "interesting and educational." The committee is composed of 15 people drawn from a diverse background of historical, cultural and artistic expertise.

More than 200 million stamps will be printed and will be sold for one year. For more information on the stamp campaign and the Prevent A Litter Coalition, visit www.palc.org.

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