If it barks, tax it

Our dog, Hank, got loose the other day. It’s not what you think.

Most dogs bolt out the front door as soon as it’s cracked. Not Hank. He’s a homebody, proven by the claw scratches on the outside of every exterior door.

Hank loves to be with us, so when he took a stroll down the street with the kids recently, it was unusual. Hank is not the rabble-rousing type. He’s certainly not a public enemy.

Nevertheless, the pound came calling.

Animal Control Officer (ACO): “Mr. Thompson?”

Me: “Yes?”

ACO: “This is the Boerne animal control department. Do you own a dog named Hank?”

Me: “Yes.”

ACO: “Could you have recently failed to keep him under proper restraint and permitted him to be at large off your premises?”

Me: “Possibly.”

ACO: “Do you know if Hank has a license?”

Me (laughing): “A license?”

ACO: “Yes, a license. I don’t see one here in our records.”

The officer, who was very courteous by the way, proceeded to tell me that every dog (and cat, for that matter) that resides in the city needs a license. I had no idea. Hank either: “Ruff! There was no sign!”

It turns out pet licenses can be purchased at the city animal control facility on Esser Road. Twelve dollars gets your pup three years of free roam (assuming he stays on your property).

I really couldn’t believe my ears. The ordeal reminded me of a Ronald Reagan quote:

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

I’m sure there are many sound public health and public safety reasons for authorities to know what pets occupy our neighborhoods.

Still, the thought that a man needs a license to have a best friend dumbfounded me.

After I expressed my disbelief to the ACO, he kindly offered to call Hank’s veterinarian to see if they might have record of an active pet license for Hank. A day later he called back. They didn’t.

So, in addition to the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on vaccinations and the fees I paid the county pound for the right to rescue Hank four years ago, it seems I also need to fork over twelve bones for a pet existence license.

No wonder the sorry dog thinks he deserves table scraps. No…table food!

Fees have long been a way for governmental bodies to increase revenues without technically raising taxes. It’s a way to skirt political pushback and still fill coffers.

Philosophically, I don’t often have a problem with charging users in accordance with the public services they consume. For example, the city adult basketball league should and does charge entry fees to defray the cost of courts and refs.

But taxing a man’s dog seems un-American, definitely un-Texan.

Cats on the other hand?… (Sorry, Pumpkin. You were low-hanging fruit.)


Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Follow him at www.kwt.info.



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