The Dallas Morning News reports that Irving, Texas just enacted a pet tax. When you pay the tax, your animal gets a record in a database maintained by a private firm. Residents with untaxed pets risk a class C misdemeanor, a real offense that goes on criminal records.
Irving’s stated rationale is “to reunite more lost pets with their owners and continue driving down the rate of animals the Irving Animal Shelter euthanizes.”
Irving has already succeeded with the euthanization problem: they plummeted 70% in the past 3 years. Now 80% of Irving’s pet shelter pets get to live. Way to go!
But the other goal, reuniting pets with their owners, is silly.
Here’s how it works: owners of fixed and microchipped pets pay the least tax, $5. Owners get taxed $10 if the pet is missing a microchip and $15 if the pet is not fixed. These sound low, but how many taxes never rise? Trust me, these are introductory period prices. It won’t be long before that $15 tax rises to Dallas’s $30 tax.
Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to reunite all lost pets with their owners. But why should a city force owners to take a specific measure to help reunification? Are pet owners incapable of managing their property?
I’ll bet a couple of dollars that 1. the vast majority of pet owners are responsible people, and 2. their pets either never get lost or, if lost, are found before they end up in a shelter.
Instead of recognizing that any problems are likely isolated to a very small percentage of pet owners, Irving has done what governments do best: harass and annoy everyone.
Pets who are not reunited are a personal problem, not a societal problem. There is no legitimate rationale for Irving to force this on its citizens. A pet tax is another piece of nanny state interference into the private matters of citizens.
Dallas Morning News article: Irving dog and cat owners must register their pets