Each year millions of pet owners spend over $41 billion on the care of their pets. During tough economic times, a pet exemption could ease the tax burden for more than 80 million households. Davi wrote, “Currently, an estimated 500,000 Americans are able to receive a tax credit for up to $3,150 for owning gas-saving hybrid cars. Many cities and states also reward hybrid owners with access to HOV lanes and additional tax breaks. Why not allow a tax exemption for pets that would reward Americans for behavior they are already doing to improve their health and well-being?”
There is certainly more evidence that pets improve our health than evidence that driving a hybrid improves our environment. The American Heart Association reported in 2008 that in a study of 76 heart failure patients those who spent therapy time with pets experienced lower stress hormones, blood pressure, lung pressure and pulse rate when compared to those who only received human visitors.
Another study followed 48 male and female stockbrokers that took medication for high blood pressure. Half of the stockbrokers adopted a dog or cat. Those without pets had twice the stress response of those with pets. After the study many of those without a pet were so convinced by the results that they adopted a pet. In her presentation on the results to the American Heart Association, Dr. Karen Allen said, “There are lots of theories, but we honestly don’t know why pets lower blood pressure. We suspect that having something on your side, something you can always count on that is non-judgmental, psychologically creates a beneficial atmosphere.”
A study published in the British Medical Journal that spanned over several decades found similar results. Pet ownership can result in higher survival rate after a heart attack and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, children that are exposed to pets early in life have less risk of developing asthma and pet-related allergies. For the elderly, pet ownership provides companionship, independence and mobility. The Midland Life Insurance Company in Ohio even considers pet ownership as a positive factor in their screening of clients over 75.
In his article, Davi noted that millions and millions of dollars are wasted on underperforming rescue and shelter programs across the country. A pet exemption would shed light on the mental and physical health benefits to the public at large and encourage responsible pet ownership.
Some people I’ve talked to have expressed concern that an exemption would only further complicate the tax code. As conservatives, our goal is to simplify the tax code, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be legitimate exemptions. Given the numerous benefits, pet expenses certainly belong in that category.
For me, the pet exemption proposal is important because it would help ease the costs of pet ownership and ensure that more pets will have the preventative and end-of-life care that I gave to my Buster. It could also allow more people to experience the happiness and unconditional love that he gave me.
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