Bill Would Repeal "Punitive" Tax on Missouri Animal Shelters

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State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D - Webster Groves) has proposed a bill to restore certain tax exemptions to animal shelters that were lost during the heated fight over puppy mills back in 2010.

Legislators opposed to the Prop B campaign to rein-in dog breeding facilities in Missouri slipped the new fees for the shelters into a 2010 bill regulating explosives. The tax requires animal shelters to pay the same licensing fees to the state Agriculture Department as commercial breeding facilities that can cost non-profit shelters up to $2,500 a year.

Kirkton's H.B. 1654 would repeal those fees and has the backing of more than 30 co-sponsors as well as the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Best Friends Animal Society.

"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," said Anne Sterling, of the Humane Society of the United States.

The tax is also being challenged in court with Humane Society, Stray Rescue of St. Louis and Dogwood Animal Shelter in the Lake of the Ozarks filing a lawsuit last year in Cole County that challenges the constitutionality of the fees.

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