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Animal Welfare Groups Call on Missouri Department of Agriculture to Abolish "Shelter Adoption Tax"

Under New Proposed Regulations Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups Would Have to Pay a Punishing Tax for Each Dog or Cat Adopted
October 5, 2011

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), The Humane Society of the United States and Best Friends Animal Society are calling on the Department of Agriculture to abolish a newly proposed tax on nonprofit animal shelters and rescue organizations in Missouri. Under these regulations nonprofit animal shelters and rescue organizations would be required to pay the same fees and taxes as for-profit, large-scale, commercial breeding facilities.

The new license fee and per-animal fee on every dog or cat adopted out could cost already cash-strapped shelters and rescue organizations as much as $2,500 per year. In a letter submitted Friday, the animal welfare groups requested that the Department provide a license fee hardship exemption for non-profit shelters and rescues. The ASPCA, The HSUS, and Best Friends Animal Society are concerned about the impact the tax will have on the local sheltering community. Local shelters and rescue groups like Stray Rescue of St. Louis and Dogwood Animal Shelter worry that the new fees could spell disaster for their organizations.

"This new adoption tax is a very short-sighted policy and could not come at a worse time. Struggling families are relinquishing more dogs and cats to shelters while declining charitable giving is making it difficult to make ends meet. At the same time, municipal governments are cutting local services, forcing private humane organizations to carry more of the burden. It's a triple whammy for us--greater demand but fewer resources," according to Randy Grim of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, Mo.

Ironically, while Missouri officials are finding ways to strip away incentives for shelters and rescues to find homes for homeless dogs and cats, lawmakers in other states are seeking to do just the opposite. A bill recently introduced by Pennsylvania State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, following another in a previous legislative session by California State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, would provide a tax credit to people who adopt from in-state shelters or rescues.

"We are working tirelessly to solve the problem of homeless dogs and cats. We are performing a service for our community and we should not be lumped into the same category as commercial puppy mills," states Ronnie Jacobsen, manager of Dogwood Animal Shelter in Osage Beach, Mo. "This tax creates a significant burden for us and drains money away from our life-saving work and the care of the animals at our shelter."

Nonprofit animal shelters and rescue groups are often the ones who clean up the problems created by large-scale puppy mills. They are providing a community service, and should not be in the same category as the large-scale commercial dog breeders who are flooding the market with puppies and adding to the problem of pet overpopulation.