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Animal Welfare Groups Urge Missouri Legislature to Repeal Burdensome Tax on Animal Shelters

Non-profit rescue groups forced to pay punishing tax for each dog or cat adopted

ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society

The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Best Friends Animal Society and other animal welfare organizations commend State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves, and 39 cosponsors for introducing legislation, H.B. 1654, to repeal a burdensome state tax on nonprofit animal shelters and rescue groups. 

The tax, from which shelters and rescues were exempt prior to 2010, requires animal shelters to pay the state the same fees and taxes as for-profit, large-scale commercial breeding facilities. The punitive tax includes a per-animal fee that shelters must pay for every dog or cat adopted out, costing already cash-strapped animal shelters up to $2,500 per year. 

The exemption that previously existed for shelters and rescues was quietly removed by the legislature in a bill about explosives in 2010 in retaliation for the Prop B campaign - the citizen initiative that was designed to establish humane standards for dogs living in puppy mills in Missouri. H.B. 1654 would restore this long-standing exemption to nonprofit animal shelters and rescue groups, which are providing a public service to communities at their own expense and are not engaged in commercial activity. A copy of the bill can be found here.

The HSUS, along with Stray Rescue of St. Louis, Mo., and Dogwood Animal Shelter in Osage Beach, filed a constitutional challenge in Cole County in late 2011 to overturn the removal of the tax exemption.  A hearing is scheduled on the litigation on February 23. The filing of H.B. 1654 by Rep. Kirkton is another important step in the effort to give animal shelters and rescue groups a reprieve from this unreasonable state tax.

Quotes from animal welfare organizations that support H.B. 1654:

  • “Local animal shelters and rescue groups are providing a public service to Missouri communities, and are often cleaning up the mess caused by the state’s large-scale commercial dog breeders. They should not be punished by state lawmakers for doing critical animal welfare work, and the legislature must pass H.B. 1654 and reverse this punitive tax.” - Anne Sterling, Midwest regional director of The Humane Society of the United States
  •  “This tax has the potential to cripple already cash-strapped shelters and rescue groups, especially during this difficult economy when struggling families are relinquishing more dogs and cats to shelters and municipal governments are cutting local services, forcing private humane organizations to carry more of the burden. We hope that the Missouri legislature will recognize the need to embrace H.B.1654 and act quickly in correcting this assault on animal shelters, which serve as the best chance these animals have at finding a home.” - Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills Campaigns.
  • “Shelters are already having a very difficult time making ends meet in this economic climate. Every dollar that the state takes from them is one fewer dollar they have to spend on the critical care of these abused and abandoned animals.” - Elizabeth Oreck, Best Friends Animal Society
  •  “Stray Rescue of St. Louis is struggling to meet the daily needs of our community’s homeless animals and we should not be forced to pay the same fees as people who are breeding dogs purely for profit and who are direct contributors to this epidemic problem we deal with on a daily basis.”  - Randy Grim, Stray Rescue of St. Louis
  • “We are performing a service to the community that is not provided by the city, county or state. Our shelter runs strictly on our thrift shop, donations and fund raisers. We work very hard to bring in barely enough money to get by day to day. This annual fee is a burden on everyone out here trying to do the right thing for the animals, and the ones that are affected by this fee the most are the animals.” - Ronnie Jacobsen, Dogwood Animal Shelter in Osage Beach


Media Contacts: HSUS: Jordan Crump, 301-548-7793, jcrump@humanesociety.org

ASPCA: Rebecca Goldrick: 646-291-4582, rebecca.goldrick@aspca.org

Best Friends: Temma Martin, 801-953-8876, temmam@bestfriends.org

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