For all of us that have taken our dogs to have their teeth cleaned, pay for the most nutritious food we can find, and worry about nails that are getting too long, there is legislation afoot that deserves our attention.
Last July U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter introduced the HAPPY Act (Humanity and Pets Partnered through the Years); a somewhat overly sugary acronym perhaps, but still an interesting idea. The bill would amend the the Internal Revenue Code to allow any taxpayer who legally owns one or more domesticated animals a tax deduction, up to $3,500 per year, for pet care expenses (including veterinary care).
Sounds like a great idea to me. Right now the bill is stuck in the Ways and Means Committee, but the ASPCA has created an easy way for you to write to your local representative in support of the bill. Fill out the provided form and the application will mail a support form letter to the representative in your state.
Groups current in support of the bill include:
• Humane Society of the United States
• The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
• Animal Law Coalition
• American Veterinary Medical Association
• The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
There are of course groups that oppose the legislation, including:
• The Tax Policy Center
• Monthly National Legislation Report
• Sportsman’s and Animal Owners Voting Alliance
• The Missouri Federation of Animal Owners
• Nevada Animal Owners & Sportsmen – Voting Alliance
• SC Animal Owners & Sportsmen Voting Coalition
• SC Federation of Dog Clubs
Among the dog clubs that are in opposition, the concern seems to center around this type of legislation being a slippery slope to move from dogs as property to a guardianship mentality.
Here is the paragraph that is on many of the opposition websites:
We fully realize that the “Happy Act”, HR3501, is a “feel good” piece of nationwide legislation to unsuspecting supporters but we also realize that this bill has the potential of putting animals on the same level as humans and sets a very dangerous precedent in equating animals with the seniors, the elderly and children, who currently are permitted to have deductions taken by their caregivers. This bill creates the perfect backdrop for “guardianship.”
If this legislation would take a step toward recognizing dogs and cats as members of the family, rather than “property”, sign me up. And if I can get a $3500 deduction to boot, this bill has my support. Give it some thought and then consider letting your local representative know if you would like to see this bill become law.