Friday, August 21, 2009

H.R. 3501 -- Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act

I, for one, will be contacting ALL of my federal legislators to express my firm support of this bill. I cannot, and will not, tell anyone how to feel about H.R. 3501, but I stand firmly behind it! This bill won't pass without all of us, all animal folks, letting our collective voices be heard! So, pass this along to each and every person you know and tell them that if they do nothing, that may be all they get...nothing.

Michael Markarian
Posted: August 19, 2009 12:09 PM

I wrote last year about California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's misguided plan to add a sales tax to veterinary services as part of a larger set of proposals to deal with the state's multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. Thanks to the work of HSUS, the California Veterinary Medical Association, and state legislators, the governor's idea was terminated, and California pet owners weren't forced into an even more difficult situation where tough choices had to be made about cutting care for their animal companions.

What's an even more hopeful sign of the times, however, is that federal lawmakers, led by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), are taking a much more foresighted approach by working to give pet owners a break during this economic downturn. McCotter has introduced H.R. 3501 -- the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act -- which would amend the federal tax code to allow a person to deduct up to $3,500 per year for pet care, including veterinary expenses. (The deduction applies only to household companion animals, not animals in laboratories, farms, or other businesses.)

McCotter has been a strong supporter of animal protection, and has advanced issues that promote the safety of both people and animals, such as dog bite prevention. We're grateful for his leadership in this new effort to help struggling families make ends meet -- recognizing that pets are part of the family, too.

During a stressful economic period, McCotter's bill is as much a human health issue as an animal health issue. Pets are good for us emotionally and physically, and studies show that having a pet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you've lost your job or are having trouble paying the mortgage or rent, caring for a companion animal provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessens feelings of loneliness and depression.

The legislation could be a critical safety net to prevent struggling pet owners who can no longer afford to care for their animal companions from relinquishing them at animal shelters -- which not only tears families apart but also places a financial burden on local municipalities and private shelters for the costs of housing pets and, tragically, euthanizing them. And by encouraging affordable pet care, the bill not only promotes animal health and well-being, but also could help to stimulate the economy by driving more business to veterinarians, animal hospitals, and pet care providers.

Pet care, in fact, can be big business. More American households can claim pets than children as dependents. Since 1998, pet ownership has increased from 56% of households to 62%--an estimated 71.4 million homes enjoy pet companionship. And to care for these animals in our lives, we collectively spend more than $40 billion -- on food, veterinary care, and other supplies and services -- every year.

Moreover, pet ownership is not just for the wealthy -- 58% of households earning incomes of $55,000 or less per year own pets. While pet ownership does increase with income, a recent American Veterinary Medical Association survey revealed that pets are most likely to be a part of families with children led by full-time workers owning their homes. And the largest growth rate in pet ownership is among retired older couples.

If you would like to see this legislation passed into law, YOU need to contact your Federal representatives in Washington and tell them you support this bill. If you do nothing, well, that is all you will get, nothing. Currently this bill is being reviewed by the Ways and Means Committee.


Sam said...

This is the sort of thing that needs to happen to help promote better animal care. Hooray for those behind this! Thank you for sharing!


Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Tank woo fur sharing!


Teddy Bear said...

We had no idea about this bill. Thanks so much for letting us know.

Teddy Bear

Dughallmor Beagles said...

Hello! We just thought we'd drop in and say hi....we know you came to see us while our PC was going through it's mid-life crisis and we're so pleased to have new friends :D (instead of a sports car it got a new router)
Oh....and that Arnie should stick to making ropey movies :o)
It's good to meet ya, we'll be back soon!
Slobbers xx

Oskar said...

My mom person is so happy that you told us about this bill, she will be acting on it.

I left both of you an award on my blog, so stop by!

The OP Pack said...

You are so good to spread the word.

T said...

I just sent you an email regarding your comment :))

MAX said...

Hey there, Scout & Freya
We've read your post with keen interest.
It's hard to explain this, but you are truly on the edge (globally speaking) of a campaign to further the movement of animal rights which also extends across our globe. The path the USA takes often directs the path of other countries.
Here, in South Africa and many, if not most, African countries - there is very little legislation whicht is even an inkling of the type of legislation you are backing.
Many households live below the poverty line, but still have animals. These animals are living in appalling conditions (Hungry, diseased, unsterilized, not vaccinated) - but still the treasured pets of their owners. In many cases, seeing a vet (ever) is never heard of at all. In urban settings, visiting a Vet is enormously expensive and is entirely for the owners' you can understand the absolute reluctance to seek specialised and appropriate help from a qualified vet, when a family can hardly feed itself .
The legislation which you are high lighting is innovative and pioneering within the context of a first world country.
We support it totally (from the outside) and encourage you in your work and your efforts.
Remember - what you achieve within your own country has ramifications for the future direction of our world. We applaud you and wish you well. We are the silent majority "out there" - a world often forgotten about.
With lots of licks

Emma Rose said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention! We're on it right now!

Martha Basset said...

Hi there, as you know we are in the UK but good work in bringing this bill to the attention of pet owners.
There are already too many pet owners struggling so we agree with your views.
Vets in the UK are very expensive however the PDSA, who we support, will assist if the humans are on state benefits.
This ensures that animals get the necessary care and treatment.
They are particularly good, in our opinion, at promoting low cost neutering and spaying.
Keep up the good work.
Martha & Bailey xxx

GoldenSamantha said...

Tank you for posting this. I came from an elderly couple situation that couldn't deal with me - bummer. In California. So thanks bigtime for sharing.
Hugs xo

Cory said...

Thanks for passing along this information. I'm letting my Grete woofie use my login so she could comment on your bloggie...she was SO excited that she could leave "pee mail"....

Grete here....this is so important because mom and dad had to spend way more than $3500 in vet bills when they adopted me a little over a year ago since I needed to have surgery on both of my elbows, plus a spay surgery. I will bark and whine until this is passed.

xoxo Grete

Dee said...

oh what a great idea, I hope it passes. Now we just need something like that over here!
~lickies, Ludo

Minnie-Moo (Rescue Lab) said...

Wow, we just read this post and like the sound of Mr McCotter - the world needs more like him. Good luck with the bill.

Minnie-Moo (UK)