Broward Commissioners Debate Tax Hike That Would Save Stray Animals

You could be deciding whether cats and dogs live or die come November 2014.

On Tuesday, Broward County commissioners debated an initiative that would let voters decide if taxes should be raised to prevent thousands of feral animals and unwanted pets from being put to sleep.

So far, three of the nine commissioners are in favor of this idea.

Broward County commissioners wanna kill Mr. Whiskers!!

Actually, they don't. But that's what it might boil down to.

"I love animals just like everybody else," Commissioner Barbara Sharief said. "But I cannot see putting animals before humans at this point in time, and so I will not be supporting this."

The debate, of course, is whether it's worth paying more taxes to rescue animals. Whether the lives of stray dogs and feral cats are more important than creating jobs and helping the homeless, or not.

Michael Rosenberg, founder of Pet Trust, an organization that helped Miami-Dade not go the route of allowing animals to be put down, says there's plenty to go around while keeping animals alive.

"There are a zillion children's programs and a zillion senior citizens' programs and programs to cure cancer,'' he said, "but there's no program to stop killing animals."

Problem is, voters will be asked if they want to raise taxes to keep the Children's Services Council in existence, as well as a tax for school resource officers. Both items will appear on the ballot in 2014.

Rosenberg, 60, says his group faced similar challenges and doubts in Miami-Dade.

"What we've done is what people said would be impossible, that nobody would vote to raise their taxes,'' he said.

Basically, the tax would amount to an estimated $13 million a year in Broward County to be spent on programs to spay and neuter animals.

The cost to the owner of a $200,000 house would be $21.57 a year, at the proposed tax rate.

Pet Trust plans to put up a website and Facebook page to try to gather support.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph