HR 3501 – Tax Deductions for Pet Care

The state of the economy hasn’t only been difficult for people; family pets have also been feeling the pain of the recession. There has been a 12% increase in pet abandonment since the economy tanked. Former pets are being found in foreclosed homes and yards, left behind by their owners to die of starvation, injury, exposure and disease. Pet owners are finding it harder to give their pets the proper care, and out of desperation are abandoning their animals. Shelters continue to fill up with these discarded pets.

Actor/animal welfare activist Leo Grillo came up with an idea to not only give people the incentive to keep their pets, but also the incentive to take good care of them. Grillo is founder and president of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue, the largest care-for-life animal sanctuary in the world. In July of 2009, Representatives Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) , Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), and Jared Polis (D-CO-2) took Grillo’s proposal and co-sponsored H.R. 3501 – Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act (aka the HAPPY Act).  The bill seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow tax deductions for pet care expenses up to $3,500, including veterinary care.

H.R. 3501 would cover expenses related to pet care as well as veterinary care, but not the cost of adopting or buying an animal, given that your pet is a “legally owned, domesticated, live animal,” according to The Examiner.

Utilizing the tax code properly not only encourages responsible pet ownership by making it more affordable for pet owners to provide adequate veterinary and other necessary pet care, but also reduces the abandonment and unnecessary euthanization of pets by people struggling financially as a result of the economic recession.

The bill is currently being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Specific Organizations Supporting H.R.3501

  • Humane Society of the United States
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Animal Law Coalition
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

Specific Organizations Opposing H.R.3501

  • The Tax Policy Center
  • Monthly National Legislation Report
  • Sportsman’s and Animal Owners Voting Alliance
  • The Missouri Federation of Animal Owners
  • Nevada Animal Owners & Sportsmen – Voting Alliance
  • SC Animal Owners & Sportsmen Voting Coalition
  • SC Federation of Dog Clubs

The language of the Bill is as follows:


To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for pet care expenses.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the ‘Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act’.


The Congress finds the following:

(1) According to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63 percent of United States households own a pet.

(2) The Human-Animal Bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well-being.


(a) In General- Part VII of subchapter B of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to additional itemized deductions for individuals) is amended by redesignating section 224 as section 225 and by inserting after section 223 the following new section:


‘(a) Allowance of Deduction- In the case of an individual, there shall be allowed as a deduction for the taxable year an amount equal to the qualified pet care expenses of the taxpayer during the taxable year for any qualified pet of the taxpayer.

‘(b) Maximum Deduction- The amount allowable as a deduction under subsection (a) to the taxpayer for any taxable year shall not exceed $3,500.

‘(c) Qualified Pet Care Expenses- For purposes of this section, the term ‘qualified pet care expenses’ means amounts paid in connection with providing care (including veterinary care) for a qualified pet other than any expense in connection with the acquisition of the qualified pet.

‘(d) Qualified Pet- For purposes of this section–

‘(1) QUALIFIED PET- The term ‘qualified pet’ means a legally owned, domesticated, live animal.

‘(2) EXCEPTIONS- Such term does not include any animal–

‘(A) used for research or owned or utilized in conjunction with a trade or business, or

‘(B) with respect to which the taxpayer has claimed a deduction under section 162 or 213 in any of the preceding 3 taxable years.’.

(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections for part VII of subchapter B of chapter 1 of such Code is amended by striking the last item and inserting the following new items:

‘Sec. 224. Pet care expenses.

‘Sec. 225. Cross reference.’.

(c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2009.

Ask your representatives to consider H.R. 3501 favorably.


About yelodoggie

C.A.Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. She has written two books about her true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also writes a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and is a contributing editor for She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
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