The San Francisco SPCA today protested Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed sales tax on veterinary services. The sales tax, if approved, could add a hefty ten percent to each veterinary bill. The tax is part of a larger combination of program cuts and revenue increases to balance the state budget.
"This suggested tax could have calamitous consequences for animals in California, and for their human guardians," said SF/SPCA President Jan McHugh-Smith. "Veterinary services are already an expensive proposition for pet guardians, many of whom are facing financial hardship in these difficult economic times. We are concerned that, if a veterinary sales tax is levied, medical treatment for companion animals will become a luxury, available to a few, but beyond the reach of many. In this situation, large numbers of animals will not receive the lifesaving medical treatment and care they need, and we could see a rise in companion animal deaths."
The San Francisco SPCA is already seeing the fallout from the national housing crisis and economic downturn. A number of cats and dogs have come to the organization because their guardians have lost their homes and/or can no longer afford to keep them. "This is a heartbreaking situation," McHugh-Smith continued, "and one that will only become more critical if the cost of veterinary care escalates."
The SF/SPCA provides approximately $1.5 million each year in charitable veterinary services to the animal companions of eligible San Francisco residents – seniors, low-income individuals, and the homeless – as well as to the thousands of homeless animals who arrive at The SF/SPCA shelter. However, the number of shelters that are in a position to provide such assistance are few, and in an economic crisis even The San Francisco SPCA may not be able to avoid financial constraints, McHugh-Smith warned.
McHugh-Smith is urging the Governor to reconsider his proposed plan to place a sales tax on veterinary services. "Animal health, like human health, should not be a taxable commodity," she said. The SF/SPCA is urging its members to contact the Governor and their elected officials to protest the proposed tax.