A bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill marries two feel-good propositions -- tax cuts and pet ownership -- to generate a novel idea: A tax break of up to $3,500 per person for pet care expenses.
The measure is a legislative long shot. But it's been championed by a veteran Hollywood tough guy and by a conservative Michigan congressman, and has drawn the enthusiastic support of animal rights groups eager to promote pet ownership during economic down times.
"We think this is as much a health care bill as any," said Nancy Perry, vice president of government affairs at the Humane Society. "It's a human health issue to ensure that pets are provided with better care because of the role they play in our families."
The measure even has a snappy acronym: the HAPPY Act, as in Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years.
"What a pro-active way to be able to help the economy and change the culture in this country around animals," Robert Davi, a veteran actor ("The Goonies," "Die Hard," "License to Kill") who was a main force behind the bill's introduction, told ABCNews.com in a telephone interview. "This money goes back into the economy, and it encourages people to understand the social responsibilities we have toward animals," Davi said. (continues here)