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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Representation Without Taxation

Posted by on January 24 at 10:56 AM

The Washington Court of Appeals overruled the King County Superior yesterday. The Superior Court had wrongly held that “vicious” pets were considered guilty until proven innocent. The Court of Appeals correctly said the County has the burden of proof when claiming that a pet is “vicious” and demanding that it must be removed from the County

Despite my reputation as a dog hater, the ruling makes sense to me. Three Cheers to the Court of Appeals.

However, it’s this kind of language from the ruling that drives me crazy.

In recognizing “that the bond between pet and owner often runs deep and that many people consider pets part of the family,” the court held that, “an agency seeking to enforce a removal order must prove both the violation and the remedy it has imposed by a preponderance of the evidence.”

If dogs are “part of the family,” maybe dog owners should be paying extra taxes for the sidewalks and parks and … legal rights they enjoy.

Dog licenses cost $20 a year. That money helps pay for the City’s Seattle Animal Shelter, which provides a range of pet services. However, it does not help pay for things like dog parks (which cost about $88,000 a year), or dog clean up …200 pounds of poop a day at those parks…, or sidewalks, or to medical attention for dog bites. It also doesn’t come close to covering the $2 million budget of the Seattle Animal Shelter.

Moreover, the City reports that only about 30,000 (out of the 125,000) dog owners have licenses, ie, even bother to pay the $20.

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This morning on my way to work, a man and his dog were taking a shit on the sidewalk together (only one was shitting, but the short leash made it a shared experience).
Now I really, really love dogs (I grew up with six cattle dogs), and I totally agree with Josh: Pets are family members, and pet owners should be more financially responsible for the upkeep of dog parks (so we don't have families shitting in the streets), and animal shelters.
That said, I am jonesing for a dog. Or five.

"If dogs are “part of the family,” maybe dog owners should be paying extra taxes Of course you for the sidewalks and parks and … legal rights they enjoy."

Heck yeah! Good thinking Josh! Just like people pay extra taxes for their children. Which is to say, I want a freaking tax break for my cats. Do you have any idea how much it costs to keep the little dears stoned on catnip 24/7? do.

My dog is my child-equivalent. My dog doesn't require tax dollars to educate her. I pay for her training out of my own income. I also don't get a tax deduction for her. I also can't pay for her dog day care ($20/day) out of pre-tax dollars. My employer doesn't cover her health insurance either. So I am already paying quite a bit for her 'legal rights.' I'll gladly pay for her use of sidewalks, dog parks, (no poop pickup since I pick up her poop myself), if that means I get the same tax breaks as adults with kids get and society starts paying for more of her care like training and health care. Something tells me I'd come out ahead.

In the meantime, this whole discussion is silly. Dog owners should be responsible and pick up their dog's poop, license them, and support the various pet service groups like PAWS, Humane Society, Seattle Animal Shelter, Citizens for Off-Leash Areas ( if they can but they certainly shouldn't be legally required to pay for more of the public services they use when no other special interest group does the same.

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