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August 28, 2009


Pets owners struggling in these precarious economic times may finally see some relief. In July, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan introduced an act that, if approved, would mitigate some of the costs of caring for a companion pet. The Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act (H.R. 3501), introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration, would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow an individual to deduct up to $3,500 for "qualified pet care expenses." Most routine pet care expenses, such as veterinary visits, would be covered for qualified pets; however, the cost of purchasing a pet would not be covered.


Pets that would qualify for the deduction are those that are "legally owned, domesticated live animals." This wording excludes animals that are utilized in conjunction with a trade or business, and animals that are used for research. The HAPPY Act was drafted in conjunction with data from the American Pet Products Association (APPA).


According to Pet Insurance Review, a Web site for comparative pet insurance shopping, veterinary costs in the U.S. have jumped by over 70 percent, reaching a high of about $19 billion last year.

"Providing pet owners the opportunity to deduct [up to $3,500 in] pet care expenses is an important step towards ensuring that pet owners provide adequate veterinary and other necessary pet care," said the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in a released statement. "It encourages responsible pet ownership and will hopefully reduce the abandonment of pets by people struggling as a result of the economic downturn."

Critics of the HAPPY Act argue there are more important issues facing the country today and better use of taxpayer dollars, but as the unemployment rate continues to rise and the state of the economy remains relatively unchanged, proponents of the act insist that pet owners should also see some relief from the government -- just as banks, investment firms, and the auto industry have received theirs. To many pet owners, their animals are more than just household additions -- they are members of the family. And for families who are barely making ends meets, this resolution could help to ensure that Americans aren't forced to decide whether to care for their pet or give it up due to the pressure of meeting other financial necessities.

H.R. 3501 is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee. If you would like to support this bill, write your congressman and urge him or her to co-sponsor or support the HAPPY Act.

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