Captain's Cabin

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HAPPY Bill would allow Pet Care Deduction!

From the Naples Daily News:

Pets could soon pay for themselves if a bill that allows owners to deduct the cost of caring for their animal’s passes.

If approved, the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax deduction of up to $3,500 per year for pet care expenses, including veterinary care, according the House Resolution 3501.

“I think it’s great,” said Stacey Huber a veterinarian at Animal Oasis Veterinary Hospital.

Huber, who learned about the bill through a reporter, said veterinary care has gotten expensive for people and, many times, pet insurance doesn’t cover some of the expenses.

If approved, Huber said this tax deduction could help pet owners who have pets that have illnesses and diseases and need long-term treatment.

The tax deduction could be nearly as much as a deduction for a child.

Last year, a taxpayer could claim a qualified child, who is 19 or under 24 and a full-time student, as a dependant for $3,500. In 2009, the deduction will climb to $3,650, according to IRS spokesman Mike Dobzinski of Plantation.

“I don’t think most Americans spend as much on pet care as on child care,” Huber said.

As people are trimming their expenses now, Huber said the bill could allow people to do preventative care for their pets more often, such as dental cleaning or blood work.

A typical flea prevention and heartworm medication supply for a year costs about $200.

Pet owners would be allowed to deduct all their pet care expenses for all of their qualified pets, according to the bill. Qualified pets would have to be legally owned, domesticated and alive, according to the bill. Exceptions include any animal used for research or owned or used in conjunction with a trade or business, according to the bill.

U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich, introduced the bill on July 31. It was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

McCotter could not be reached for comment. Neither could Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers or Rep Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.

Pet owners know how expensive medical care can be.

Naples resident Nancy White supports the bill because it could possibly offset costs for her domestic American shorthaired 16-year-old cat named Happy.

“I think it’s a good idea, as long as people don’t abuse it,” White, 63 said.

On average, if Happy doesn’t get sick, White spends about $300 a year for his check-ups. But, when he does get sick, the bills increase.

“In today’s economy, I think that people have to make a choice between their pet and themselves,” she said.

After hearing about the bill, several pet owners at the Rover Run Dog Park at Veteran’s Park on Immokalee Road said they would support it.

“It would be nice,” Michaela Henning, 32, said.

The East Naples resident said she doesn’t know if she spends $3,500 a year on her 14-month-old Jack Russell terrier named Vito but she said expenses quickly add up. Henning estimated spending about $2,000 a year on food and veterinary expenses.

Henning added that instead of a tax deduction, she would prefer to have another dog park in Collier County.

Marc Carestia, 22, said a tax deduction could be a good thing but he could see it being abused.

The East Naples resident has three dogs, an 11-month-old Boston Terrier named Skittles; a 3-year-old Catahoula mix named Candy and Rocko, a 2 1/2 year old Doberman mix. He estimated spending an average of $1,500 to $2,000 on his pets, if they remain healthy without needing additional medical visits.

Alan Grosshart, a veterinarian at Petsmart in Naples, said he has seen many pets being left behind and euthanized because of the current economy and would support the bill if it could prevent that from happening.

“What I would like to see is more affordable pet insurance for pets,” Grosshart said.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sarah the Cheetah, Fastest Mammal on Earth

From Yahoo Buzz....

Cheetahs always win.

Usain Bolt may get his share of million-dollar jackpots for being a world champ sprinter, but he's got nothing on 8-year-old Sarah. The Cincinnati Zoo's cheetah ambassador just beat the 2001 land-speed world record for mammals.

A male cheetah in South Africa covered 100 meters in 6.19 seconds. Sarah didn't beat that just once, but twice: She first clocked in at 6.16 seconds and then 6.13 seconds—which, by the way, bested Bolt's August sprint by more than 3 seconds. And that's from a girl who has been in captivity pretty much her whole life.

Sarah's feat helped call attention to the species' endangered numbers. According to the zoo, the spotted felines' population has dropped from 100,000 back in 1900 to about one-tenth that number. Cincinnati has been doing its part to nurture more cubs than anywhere else. Not so coincidentally, the zoo was home to another record holder: Moya, who died this past January, held the title for a year before his brother Nyana (over in South Africa) snagged it. Now Sarah's got bragging rights.

She may not rest easy for long. Zaza, an 8-year-old female in South Africa, will be throwing down the gauntlet over in South Africa when the weather clears up, either later this month or in early October. Meanwhile, here are two videos of Sarah's sprint—a quickie AP version and the Cincinnati Zoo's longer one.

Click here to see the Video!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

World's oldest dog dies in NY at 21 — or 147

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK – A wire-haired dachshund that held the record as the world's oldest dog and celebrated its last birthday with a party at a dog hotel and spa has died at age 21 — or 147 in dog years.

The dog, named Chanel, died Friday of natural causes at her owners' home in suburban Port Jefferson Station, on Long Island.

Chanel, as stylish as her legendary namesake, wore tinted goggles for her cataracts in her later years and favored sweaters because she was sensitive to the cold, owners Denice and Karl Shaughnessy said Monday.

The playful dachshund was only 6 weeks old when Denice Shaughnessy, then serving with the U.S. Army, adopted her from a shelter in Newport News, Va.

Along with her owner, Chanel spent nine years on assignment in Germany, where she became adept at stealing sticks of butter from kitchen countertops and hiding them in sofa cushions in the living room, Shaughnessy said. She also liked chocolate, usually considered toxic to dogs, Shaughnessy said.

"She once ate an entire bag of Reese's peanut butter cups, and, you see, she lived to be 21, so go figure," Shaughnessy added.

Karl Shaughnessy nominated Chanel for the title of world's oldest dog after noticing the Guinness World Records book had no record.

Guinness World Records officials presented Chanel with a certificate as the world's oldest dog at a Manhattan birthday bash hosted by a private pet food company in May.

Chanel loved the party, especially the cake, which had a peanut butter flavor and had been made for dogs, Denice Shaughnessy said.

Chanel exercised daily and ate home-cooked chicken with her dog food, but good care wasn't entirely responsible for her long life, said her owners, who attributed God.

"Dogs are God's angels sent here to look out for us," Denice Shaughnessy said.

A dog from New Iberia, La., named Max, is vying for the record of world's oldest dog. Owner Janelle Derouen said Max marked his 26th birthday on Aug. 9. She said Guinness World Records officials were reviewing documents to authenticate his age; a Guinness World Records official in London didn't immediately answer an e-mail from The Associated Press requesting confirmation of that.

When asked the secret to her dog's long life, Derouen said she was shocked he's still with her.

"I have five kids, and all my kids are grown and gone," she said. "Now my grandkids are playing with this dog."