Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) passes with potential benefits for animal protection sector
By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
The $2 trillion emergency stimulus bill that cleared Congress earlier today carries important prospective benefits for the animal care and services sector. These include a temporary expansion of charitable deduction provisions, opportunities for business continuity loans to cover payroll, paid leave, health-insurance premiums, facilities costs, and debt service, and increased tax incentives for corporate giving.
From our perspective, such relief is urgent, and we’re pleased that the stimulus package will bring critical support to millions of Americans, including direct payments, child care credits, expanded unemployment aid, support for health care providers and hospitals under duress, and financial assistance for small businesses and distressed companies. These benefits will be of direct value to eligible individuals and entities, including many of our colleagues, partners and donors, and those of countless other humane organizations and businesses, including sanctuaries, humane societies, rescue organizations and veterinary care providers around the country.
Certainly, we worry that it’s not going to be enough for our sector, historically underfunded and now under significant stress and demands for service. When the COVID-19 crisis emerged, we were quick to urge key congressional leaders to take account of the important role that local and regional animal care organizations and providers play in helping to keep pets with their families and in making every American community better, kinder and safer for people and animals. There are an estimated 3,500 brick and mortar animal shelters and 10,000 rescue groups in the United States providing services for pets, and the need for resources and operational funds in the sector has never been greater. For that and other reasons, we’ll continue to press both the Congress and the federal government for more help for animal care and service entities and providers.
The argument for supporting humane organizations through this and subsequent stimulus packages is self-evident. In times of calm or crisis, the organizations that care for, foster and place animals for adoption are the primary source of accurate information and counsel to citizens seeking to ensure the safety and well-being of animals in their homes and other animals in their communities. They also provide access to basic services, pet health and nutrition supplies, and veterinary care, and in this time especially, they are helping people whose lives have been disrupted by financial stress, job loss, school and business closures, and sickness.
Like the food banks, houses of worship, domestic violence shelters, early childhood care and education centers, after-school facilities and senior centers that we cherish and support, animal care and service providers are the guarantors of public health and safety in communities across this nation. With these other entities and institutions, they are the compassionate face of a great nation. They are beacons of hope in a dark time. We’re inspired by them, and we’ll give them the full measure of our support and service in the months ahead.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.