Reduction in spending for education, increases in sales and income tax, cuts in human services spending and general confusion about the budget leaves little room for dancing, but there is one bright spot: the taxation of veterinary services, aka the Fido Fine, has not been included with the other services taxes. The report we got from our faithful source, speaking of Fido, was true.

The tax, which would have added an additional 10 percent to veterinary charges, was a cry of “Sic ‘em” to the pet-owning public and veterinary professionals who directed thousands of calls, letters and e-mails protesting a charge that would have been a hardship not only to people but also to the animals.

“The opposition of veterinarians, pet owners and concerned citizens was so intense, a special extension was added to the governor’s budget voicemail line to handle the opposition to the tax on pets,” said William Grant, II, DVM, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). ”We believe the overwhelming number of calls delivered an emphatic message to the governor that taxing pet owners would be hugely unpopular and inequitable.”

Local veterinarians said that the new expenses would affect the ability of many citizens, already suffering from the effects of an ailing economy, to care for their pets. This would lead to more abandonment and euthanization of creatures who were once considered family members.

“We have seen a decline in people’s ability to care for their pets due to their financial situations [before tax],” said Marcus Caswell, operations manager of Golden State Humane Society, a low-cost spay/neuter hospital located in Long Beach and Garden Grove. “For the government to add up to a 10 percent tax on vet services would have meant that pets wouldn’t be getting the proper care and could be abandoned.”

“Pet owners wouldn’t potentially have been able to afford more expensive services,” added Dr. John Kuttel of Huntington Harbour Veterinary Clinic. “This would be deleterious to the pets’ health.”

The California Veterinary Medical Association and The Humane Society of the United States publicly thanked Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature for their responsiveness to the public, but they aren’t alone. Outside Belmont Pets and Launderpet on Broadway, clients were expressing satisfaction that their animal companions were being given a—well, more human status
“This would be a hardship,” said Linda Biggam, who lives with two cats. “So many people already have to take advantage of low-cost spay, neuter. This would affect the health of the animals as well.

“Anything that helps the pets, I’m for.”