Human Exceptionalism

Pets Should Not be Treated in Tax Law As If They Were Children

I love dogs and cats as much as most and have loved my pets deeply. But they are not children and shouldn’t be treated as if they were under the law.  Now, a bill has been tossed in the hopper that would grant tax deductions for the expenses of caring for pets. From the story:

Should you be allowed to deduct ownership of cats, dogs, birds, lizards and more from your taxes? You could under a proposed new federal bill, which allows up to a $3,500 tax deduction every year for things like pet food and vet bills. The goal, according to the bill’s authors, is to make pet ownership more affordable and prevent people from abandoning pets during a bad economy.

Heather and Jason Neil are in search of a new companion, and like the incentive that their new dog could be tax deductible – the same as kids. “Our pets are our kids,” said Heather Neil. “We’ve not been fortunate enough to have children, but our pets are our children.” Sharon Harmon at the Oregon Humane Society takes this move as a good sign: “It’s great we are looking at pets are true members of the family.”

No, it’s a very bad sign. Leaving the fiscal madness out of the equation, this is a human exceptionalism issue.We go down a very bad road if we begin to blur the legal and moral lines between human children and beloved pets.

Pet ownership and parenting are different things altogether. Parents are duty bound–or at least, should be–to raise children to become independent and productive members of society.  Families are important to the human future.  In contrast, pets give us great joy and are gifts of love. But they are not human beings and that distinction must remain vividly clear in law.

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