GUEST COLUMN: Pet project to solve a taxing problem

Sheila Kozmin

Like many responsible pet owners I use the services of a veterinarian to keep Kitty and Fido healthy. I have had excellent service from my Sarnia vets.

However, the costs can be prohibitive; in the last six months alone I have spent almost $700 for my cat’s check-up, shots, blood work, medications and a dental cleaning. I am well aware that many caring pet owners simply cannot afford such discretionary visits to a veterinarian.

Being one who loves animals I have pondered deeply over this disparity and I have an idea!

I would like to propose a provincial veterinarian income tax credit.

This is how I envision it to work. In order to qualify, owners would first need to purchase an annual licence for their pets. The licence tag number would be the animal’s official ID number. (Non-licensed pets would not be eligible for the tax credit.) Medical receipts issued by the vet would be saved and submitted at income tax time, and a formula would be worked out by revenue bureaucrats, which would translate into a sizable tax credit for pet owners.

I believe that such an initiative would be beneficial in four crucial ways: Municipalities could generate more revenues from increased pet registration fees; Pet owners may be more willing to pay for vet services knowing they will qualify for a tax credit; Vets would see increased business and may consider lowering some of their fees; Pets will be healthier and happier with improved health care.

Municipalities are often faced with the problems of too many stray cats, hoarding of animals or reports of animal abuse. Increased revenues from additional qualifying pet registrations could go a long way towards helping the Humane Societies address these issues.

Pets are regarded as family members.  Therapy animals assist residents in long-term care homes and other facilities; working animals assist disabled persons; police animals help to fight crime. Pets teach our children about empathy and responsibility. Their role as loyal companions is indisputable. Such valuable members of our society deserve to be protected against disease, treated for injuries and spayed or neutered.

Veterinarians are trained doctors dedicated to the care of their animal patients. They do not qualify for provincial funding, as do medical doctors. Therefore, it makes sense to me that a tax credit incentive for pet owners would allow vets to see and treat more animals.

What do you think?

Sheila Kozmin is a copyeditor, proofreader and owner of the small business “Edit on Demand.”