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I can’t believe that the anti-health reform zealots haven’t loudly weighed in on a proposed piece of legislation called the “Happy Act,” which would provide taxpayer-aided medical care for pets.

An illustration from the ASPCA who supports the bill.

An illustration from the ASPCA who supports the bill.

The bill, “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years,” was introduced by Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and proposes to change the tax law to permit annual deductions of $3,500 for money spent caring for your pet.

The proposed legislation says that deductions would be for the costs of providing care for a pet, but not for purchase of a new family friend.

McCotter is not some wet-behind-the-ears, new arrival to Capitol Hill. Representing a district just outside Detroit, he is chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

I should mention that the four-term Republican says he’s a “proud conservative” and that he doesn’t much like most of President Obama’s ideas for health reform.

So with opinionated Americans having spent much of last month screaming at one another over human health care, why try now to legislate government-subsidized health care for our dogs, cats, birds, and other cuddly or crawly pets?

The congressman says he hears growing reports that because of the poor economy, people cannot afford to care for their sick and injured pets and often get rid of them.

The legislation would allow people to keep their pets and get back the money they spend to care for them, he says.

The justification for the deductions are in the language of the bill, one of McCotter’s staff told me this week.

This is part of what it says:  “Sixty-three percent of United States households own a pet and the Human-Animal Bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well-being.”

McCotter told an interviewer that the name Happy Act came from a Rolling Stones song (Happy) that was he was listening to on his iPod while working on the language for the bill.

Then, he admits, he had to find words to fit the acronym.

McCotter says he will wait until the (human) heath bill passes or fails before pushing the Happy Act.  He adds that his colleagues will take the bill as seriously as their constituents tell them to.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have three labs. I must admit that during my numerous trips to contribute to the college fund of my vet’s children, I’ve often asked anyone standing nearby why doggie medical expenses couldn’t be deductible.

However, I’m not comfortable that this is the time to focus on our beloved pets while millions of kids, elderly and poor can’t get the care they need to stay alive.

For more information on McCotter and his bill, here is a link to an interview he did with Missy Woodward of DoggyTV and another link to the actual bill.



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