Last week, I talked with the founder of a senior dog rescue organization near Seattle. Her report from the frontlines was dire. She says she’s never seen the situation for dogs so bad. She gets several calls each day from people around the country. They are frantic. Unable to make ends meet and losing their homes and jobs, they plan to “give up” their dogs. The shelters are overcrowded; the rescues, including hers, overextended.
It’s into this environment that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has introduced a potentially catastrophic idea. At a special legislative session to address the state’s budget crisis, he proposed new taxes on certain services, including an approximate nine-percent charge on veterinary services.
What happens when the cost to see the vet jumps up by 9 percent? Animal advocates and veterinarians predict an even greater reduction in routine wellness visits—which means missing opportunities to treat problems early, and more affordably and effectively. They worry that people already struggling to keep animals in the family will be forced to abandon them rather than pay for treatment. Aside from the humane issues, there is also a practical matter: More abandoned animals will only add additional strain (and cost) to shelters and rescues.
This isn’t a solution. They are meeting as I blog. If you are a dog-loving California resident, contact your lawmaker.