If you are a dog lover like I am, and a fan of cartoons, you may remember a cartoon that was on when I was a child. I do not remember it well enough to remember the dog’s name off-hand, and would love someone to remind me. It was this cartoon dog, which, once he received a treat, would float up to the clouds, and lay there on his back, satiated, floating along on a cloud. He was very, very obviously, a happy dog.
Today I read about another version of a “Happy” dog, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. In the June issue of “FIDO” Magazine, an article on “a HAPPY Act” discusses a tax break that Thaddeus McCotter, a fourth term Republican Congressman from Michigan has introduced. It is in the form of bill H.R. 3501, known as the “Humanity and Pets Partnered through the year act” or HAPPY act. This bill would give dog and other pet owners a maximum tax credit of $3500 for the care of their qualified pets (are you listening cat & horse owners?). The bill defines a qualified pet as “a legally owned, domesticated live animal”. The bill goes on to exclude animals used for research, or owned or utilized in conjunction with a trade or business.
This bill also defines qualified pet care. “Pet care expenses means amounts paid in connection with providing care (including Veterinarian care) but excludes the cost of the pet. Under the bill, all pet food, vaccinations, checkups, bedding, (TOYS EVEN!!!), would receive a credit up to $3500.
At a time when the country needs to be lowering a federal deficit, I see this bill as a practical and logistical way to level the playing field for families with fur kids. Let’s face it, most of us think long and hard about adding or adopting another four legged furface. We know the perils of a midnight veterinary trip, the cost of quality pet food, the price of vaccinations. However, I also know multitudes of people who’s animals have saved them: given them hope, loved them into loving themselves, helped lower the blood pressure and raise the spirits. Many of us would share our last morsel of food with our four legged family members, and have made the conscious choice to have dogs & cats or horses INSTEAD of human children. To those of us who have made the decision to raise 4-legged individuals instead of two, we know the choices we have made and the amount of thought that went into that decision. For many, it is an alternative way of life to the white house with the white picket fence and the 2.3 kids. We deserve to be able to count these sentient beings with souls as family members, not some “thing” that we discard like a potted plant when it dies.
Everyday I experience the love, loyalty, intense care, happiness and joy that exist between animals and their “owners” when I channel from one to the other. It brings tears to many, many people, when they realize how earnest, humorous, fun loving and protective their own pets are. I know we have all seen the people at the vets, the older person with an older cat or dog, probably the closest family each of them have. These people may be on social security, but I believe the most security you can have in this world is to be loved by and to love a cat or dog or horse. Their love is like the movie title, “the sure thing”.
I would like to add that this bill is an insurance policy not only that Americans will be happier and healthier, but will also cause the country to have a lower murder rate. The simple fact is that there has never been anyone on death row that had a pet as a child. Simple and profound both. Which is actually what I have come to expect from dogs.
You teach a child (or an adult) to love, respect, honor and care for a pet that absolutely loves them back, and it gets a lot harder to be cruel. I learned to get up at 5:30 am to milk cows, not because my father made me, but because I knew the cows wouldn’t get feed and be able to give milk if I wasn’t out there doing it. I knew when I woke up the first few strings of cows were already weaving their way to the holding pen, in anticipation of a fine meal, a friendly tussle and unloading all the milk contained in that cumbersome swollen udder. If cows aren’t milked, they can actually get sick. That fact motivated me to get up and at ’em more than any financial reward my family could dangle in front of me.
It is called caring, the preview to love.
There have been several programs that team life sentenced prison in-mates with service dogs in training, allowing that prisoner to have an intimate on one relationship with a being that gives unfailing love and forgiveness. Many of the prisoners have tears in their eyes when they turn their trained dogs over to the agency to be taken to their lifetime homes. When the prisoners are interviewed about the experience, many say it was the first time in their lives that they felt loved and cared for, the first time that a being didn’t let them down, but was there for them in a consistent way. We all know dogs aren’t perfect, but one of the many things they have mastered in spades is being able to forgive and forget, coming the next day with a clean slate and no grudges. Dogs live in present time, which is in and of itself amazing- it is where all the power is, where miracles are created.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could set these dogs up with these men BEFORE they find themselves committing crimes and receiving criminal records? Doesn’t a person loved by a pet, really, really, unconditionally loved by a pet, have higher self-esteem? Higher self-esteem affects almost everything, from not lying, to being less promiscuous, to believing your opinion is valid, and that you have something to contribute to a conversation and to the world.
With this bill into law, we would worry less about adopting that “extra” rescue because the choice was to leave her and know that she would be put down, dead. This bill will allow us to go and get medical care for our pets, not leave them untreated because we didn’t have the funds. To vaccinate our animals so they have less illness. I read about this bill a few hours ago, and the guides are still showing me instances of how the social climate will change with this legislation. 63% of ALL HOMES now own at least one pet. Fewer than 45% of the households today have children.
According to FIDO, “the Human-Animal Bond has been shown to have a positive effect upon people’s emotional and physical well-being”. Fido goes on to point out: “For so many people, especially the disabled and elderly (hell with that, I fit into this category!) Their dog or pet is their child AND their constant companion”
H.R. 3501 is currently stalled in the house ways and means committee. If you agree that the HAPPY Act is a great idea, (personally, I am that dog on top of the cloud, floating dreamily with visions of the new improved world) Contact the House of Representatives and support it. I urge you to make the call. While you are at it, write me with the advantages you believe would be in the world if you could afford healthcare, food and basic needs for your fur baby.
For info on the HAPPY ACT, go to www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3501/show mccotter.house.gov/HoR/MI11/Home
contact the house ways and means: 202 225 3625
If your representative is on the committee, go directly to their website~
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