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When Speaking of Ferals, Fewer Is Better

But when caring for ferals, best to get some credit for your kindness

If you or someone you know has ever cared for stray animals, you may want to remember the name Jan Van Dusen — especially during tax season.

She's the woman responsible for the ruling that some pet-related expenses are now tax-deductable.

Van Dusen once provided foster care for about 70 feral cats (beside her own seven), taking them to be neutered or spayed by Fix Our Ferals, an IRS-approved high-volume program near her hometown of Oakland, Calif., before they could be adopted or re-released.

Then this former family law attorney followed up her generosity by requesting a tax deduction for $12,068 in expenses: food, litter, vet bills, some utility bills, and things needed to keep their conditions sanitary such as paper towels and garbage bags, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Last June a U.S. Tax Court judge allowed her to deduct most of some bills and half of others, acknowledging they weren't reimbursed by Fix Our Ferals but certainly forwarded its charitable mission.

It was the first time the court had ruled on the financial value of these very importance guardian angels.

In the future now, consider keeping record of your major expenses ($250 or more) incurred caring for stray animals in your neighborhood, and have a relevant charity write a letter thanking you for the amount.

Of course ideally those strays wouldn't be around in the first place.

To this cause, PetFix Northeast Ohio will host a half-price mobile cat spay/neuter clinic at Lake Humane Society this Wednesday, March 7, with additional dates to be added soon in Madison.

PetFix is a non-profit organization serving low-income pet owners, feral cat caregivers, shelters, rescues and animal control agencies in six counties of Northeast Ohio. “So our van goes everywhere,” said spokeswoman Denise Reynolds.

“In fact, during the entire month of March we're having a Beat the Heat special, aiming to reduce the number of litters that happen each spring” — half-priced spays and neuters all month, Reynolds said.

To get a jump on the 2012 breeding season, PetFix hosted a Fix for Six event on February 25 in Cleveland — and despite the first real blizzard of the year, was pleased to report 70 surgeries for $6 a piece, 30 females and 40 males, some coming from as far a distance as Ashtabula.

This work was achieved only by all involved, including surgeons and their medical teams, volunteering their time, and donations made to cover the cost of medical supplies.

“There were lots of lingering good-byes as loving owners and caregivers handed over their precious animals,” said PetFix founder Timy Sullivan, who was there, “and an equal number of happy reunions as the day came to an end.

“To top it off, one beautiful black stray who came in as 'Kitty #1' found true love with Rainbow Veterinary Assistant Leslee Chilberti and went home as 'Bishi' to join his new friend 'Mitsu.'”

Click here to enjoy more pictures of the event, including Leslee and her new kitty. Click here for a complete listing of the March Beat the Heat dates and locations, and if you qualify, sign up before the dates fill up! (To sign up for Mentor's date, call 440-290-8864.) And with questions, contact fixemnow@aol.com or 216-536-0930.

PetFix Northeast Ohio is also on Facebook.

Timy Sullivan March 05, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Thanks for helping spread the word about the PetFix Beat the Heat March special and thanks to all those who make our work possible - as well as the wonderful people who care enough about the animals in their care to have them altered.
Andy March 14, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Thanks for this! Next thing that needs to be worked on is the high cost of veterinary care - and the fact that most insurance companies won't cover many "preexisting" or inbred conditions...

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