Pet food tax aimed at cutting euthanasia rate

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 27, 2010 at 7:05 PM

SEATTLE - A proposed new tax could have pet owners paying more at the check-out stand.  HB 1406 and SB 5329 would tax dog and cat food distributors in Washington an additional 3 cents per pound. Most expect that expense would be passed on to consumers.  

Supporters of the legislation say 60,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in Washington every year, costing millions of dollars.  Members of Pawsitive Alliance believe the tax would help cut those numbers considerably. The additional funds would be used to subsidize spaying and neutering for low income pet owners.  The costs would be $20 for dogs and $10 For cats - a small fraction of the current costs. 

Alliance member Andrea Logan says it will be a cost saver to the state in the long run. 

"We're already paying for it as taxpayers. We're paying for the cost of animal control to round up animals and to euthanize them. This is a more cost effective solution; it's also a more humane solution," she said.

The Seattle Humane Society is one of the few animal organizations in the state that oppose the tax.  CEO Brenda Barnett says flatly, "This year we don't need another tax." 

Barnett believes that if passed, the tax would unfairly punish responsible pet owners who have already paid to have their animals altered.  She also worries that verifying income would be time consuming and costly, and questions whether focusing on euthanasia is really the best way to go about controlling the pet population. 

"I would say you have to do a combination of adoption, education and spay/neuter," says Barnett. "There's not just one thing that's the magic, silver bullet."

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