Friday, August 21, 2009

H.R. 3501 -- the 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.

This bill HAS NOT been passed. Right now it sits with the Ways and Means Committee. YOU need to contact the Federal legislators for your state in Washington, DC and tell them that you support this bill's passage.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderfurl post and it's the truth!!! We are hoping this does get passed, because, we ARE dependants! We're dependant on our servants...being in a furrever home, there's lots we cannot do (we just so hated admitting that!) and we need them...Have a happy weekend!!!

The Island Cats said...

Wow! We're proud to say we're from Michigan where Rep. McCotter is from! We'll tell our beans to support this!

Anonymous said...

Great post and we support this bill. It does offer much needed help for beans who are in dire finaicial straits or others who have taken in many homeless cats over the years.

Amy & the house of cats said...

I had heard about this bill before but had only heard it being considered. I think it is a good idea and might help prevent people from abandoning their pets when times are tough.

Cezar and Léia said...

Very interesting post and news!
purrs and love

Sweet Purrfections said...

I think this a wonderful idea and I will tell my mom to take care of this immediately!

Angel, Kirby and Max said...

We were not aware of this bill. Thanks for the information.

Karen Jo said...

Thank you for a very informative post. I really hope that this gets passed.

ZOOLATRY said...

Thanks for letting us know about this, it was not familiar to us... we will certainly contact our

Zippy, Sadie, Speedy and M'Gee said...

Mom heard about dis and thawt it was someones idea of a joke...We'll be contacting and pushing fur it to go thru!

Noir the Texas Tabby said...

I hope they do more than just consider it! Tommy says it would help the humans and help us too!