The state of Oregon has proposed a Senate Bill requiring horse owners to pay a $100 annual tax on their horses. If you would like to learn more and read the proposal, follow the link below.

http://www.leg.state.or.us/11reg/measures/sb0200.dir/sb0262.intro.html

Here is a copy of the letter Dr. Michael Foss wrote to our state senator:

Dear Senator,

I would like to bring to your attention to SB 262. I believe this is a detrimental proposal and needs to be eliminated for the following reasons;

1. It does not address the issue it states as its impetus, horse abandonment. Nothing in the bill suggests a solution to the horse abandonment issue. The only way abandonment will be curtailed is by increasing a demand for the unwanted horse. The main channel for unwanted horses has been through slaughter markets and those markets have been effectively closed by intense lobbying by special interest groups.

2. The Department of Agriculture has historically had poor enforcement of its policies. The Brand Inspection Department has been grossly ineffective for many years and expanding the department is unlikely to make it more effective. Improving enforcement, especially to cover the proposed scale of this bill, would require the addition of many more state employees and training of many other departments (i.e. DOT, State Police, and County Sheriffs). The government grows bigger, not better!

3. This is simply a TAX! The money collected goes into the general fund! Nothing is allocated to help abandoned horses. Voters are telling state and federal governments to quit spending money, not raise taxes.

4. This TAX adds substantial cost to an industry that is already suffering from tough economics and bad politics. One hundred dollars per horse per year is a substantial cost to the livestock owner. This TAX could remove any profit from raising horses. This TAX is high enough to send many people out of the horse business.

5. This TAX will simply shrink the horse industry in Oregon. Serious horse breeders will simply move out of state. Taking jobs, therefore tax revenue, out of Oregon.

6. This is simply a TAX on owning livestock. I think this is a very dangerous direction.

7. The section on equine transport is arbitrary. I have extensive experience in the science of equine transport and feel most of this section is simply someone’s opinion and not based on sound science.

8. This TAX will be a burden on the struggling cattle industry. Horses are often a necessary part of a cattle operation and this will add a substantial financial burden on a marginally profitable industry.

9. Finally, part of this bill will basically give the Department of Agriculture the power to enter a horse property without a search warrant. I think this is a significant loss of a basic American right.

For the listed reasons, I strongly believe this proposed legislation should be killed.

If you have any questions about my interpretation of this bill, please contact me. In addition, if you ever need help with animal issues please contact me. I have talked to several local groups about the Unwanted Horse issue and feel I have some useful information as well as national perspective.

Thank you for your time,

Mike Foss DVM
Alpine Veterinary Hospital
Hood River, OR