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Bill Would Repeal "Punitive" Tax on Missouri Animal Shelters

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State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D - Webster Groves) has proposed a bill to restore certain tax exemptions to animal shelters that were lost during the heated fight over puppy mills back in 2010.

Legislators opposed to the Prop B campaign to rein-in dog breeding facilities in Missouri slipped the new fees for the shelters into a 2010 bill regulating explosives. The tax requires animal shelters to pay the same licensing fees to the state Agriculture Department as commercial breeding facilities that can cost non-profit shelters up to $2,500 a year.

Kirkton's H.B. 1654 would repeal those fees and has the backing of more than 30 co-sponsors as well as the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Best Friends Animal Society.

"Local animal shelters and rescue groups are providing a public service to Missouri communities, and are often cleaning up the mess caused by the state's large-scale commercial dog breeders. They should not be punished by state lawmakers for doing critical animal welfare work, and the legislature must pass H.B. 1654 and reverse this punitive tax," said Anne Sterling, of the Humane Society of the United States.

The tax is also being challenged in court with Humane Society, Stray Rescue of St. Louis and Dogwood Animal Shelter in the Lake of the Ozarks filing a lawsuit last year in Cole County that challenges the constitutionality of the fees.

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7 comments
mariedurham
mariedurham

This is no "punitive" tax. It's a licensing fee, pure and simple. If it's legal to charge to breeding businesses, then it should apply as well to rescue businesses. It's discrimination in favor of a type of business otherwise.

Emily Harris
Emily Harris

This is not a tax!   This is a licensing fee.  Actually, homeless shelters have to pay for business licenses - this is the same thing.The shelters and rescues and HSUS/ASPCA want you to think this is a tax but it is not.  Besides the costs are not as much as they are trying to make anyone think.  Truthfulness is not part of their makeup.The license starts at $100 and for each dog they sale (adoption is only for human children), they add $1 to the fee up to a maximum total of $2500.  Since most of the animals they sale have amounts set way above anything they have sunk into them - $1 off their profits is not something to yell about.  AND if the $1 is too much for them, pass it onto the person who is buying the animal.  If they can't afford to pay the $1 then they certainly can't take care of it in the long run.

EmmaG
EmmaG

Applying this fee or tax to animal shelters is like applying the hotel tax to homeless shelters. I believe I'm paraphrasing. Not to mention that adding it in 2010 was entirely punitive on the part of anti-Prop B legislators.

maggie b
maggie b

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Rep Kirkton is a great state representative. About the only one who actually listens to the people in her district.

813yaz
813yaz

A true animal rescue is not a business ! They are a not for profit charity. Fostering a dog or cat is even tax deductible. Also the cost to care for and house an abandoned pet can be very expensive. Currently the rescue I foster for has an 11,000$ vet bill for a dog that ended up needing extensive care. Sometimes doing the right thing costs a lot of money. The dogs that are adopted out range from 30$ - 200$ if the adopter was charged the full rescue expense no one would be able to afford to adopt these sweet companions. Also look at the tax dollars that are saved because the city or county is not paying to care for these animals. We are overrun with dogs and cats but they are still breeding them and overqhelming the city shelters. You would be surprised how many pure breed Christmas presents end up in the city/county shelters around the first of the year. A breeder does not reimburse for vet care if you buy a dog that is sickly. For a breeder these are not pets they are a cash crop. For a rescue they are living breathing companions. Also I believe the fee to breeders was for the added expense of the state monitoring the welfare of the breeding animals.

EmmaG
EmmaG

A licensing "fee" would be a flat fee. $1.00 per animal is a tax. If shelters were only asked to pay $100 for licensing, I don't think there'd be an issue.

Most shelters are not making a profit - far to the contrary. If you add up the costs to examine, treat sick animals, spay/neuter, vaccinate, feed, house, etc. most shelters' adoption fees do not cover the cost of the animals. 

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