Our Shih Tzu Morti and the Houston Testicle Tax

“Hi! I’m Morti McCurdy – I’m an un-neutered male Shih Tzu canine, 11 years old and quietly living out my life as an indoor guy. Now the City of Houston plans to tax my family $60 a year because they have decided that little dogs like me are a threat to throwing the local canine population into chaos because I still have the equipment to make that happen. – Tell me. Do I look like a threat to you? – Or is it more that little guys like me are easy tax money?”

Morti pretty much said it all.

If you are a dog owner living in the City of Houston and you choose to do the caring and responsible thing of making sure that your canine has his or hr rabies and other important vaccines, your vet is required to report your act of responsibility to the City of Houston Pet Licensing Department and to inform them also as to whether or not your animal has been spayed or neutered,

If you have not had your animal properly altered, it will now cost you $60 per year to license your dos, as opposed to the $10 annual fee that existed for years. There is no exception based on age, size, or a life style that protects your pet from random free range contact with other canines.

Our dog Morti was never altered because we had hoped when he was younger that we could allow him to help breed us a pup for the future. That never happened, but we then didn’t want to put him through a procedure as he got older.

We feel that we should not have to be forced or coerced into neutering our Morti at his age – especially because of his size and protected living circumstances. On the other hand, this is one of those “can’t fight City Hall” issues that we also have chosen to not make into our Holy Grail-level expenditure of energy in our wistful search for justice in this world. Too many other serious issues are deserving and getting our attention to add this one to the agenda.

So, we renewed our pet license at the 600% increase rate – and I write this column, simply as an advisory to the rest of you of what’s coming your way as a Houston dog owner – if you too have a vet services traceable un-neutered canine that the City of Houston can document and bill – as they did us.

Oh yes! – This policy now applies to cats as well! The language on the City’s billing notice reads as follows:

“Important: Pursuant to the City of Houston Code Of Ordinances in Sec. 6-86, no person shall own, keep, possess, or have control over any dog or cat within the city unless such person has a current license for such do or cat.”

The licensing and fee collections are handled by:

City of Houston, BARC – Animal Shelter and Adoptions, 3200 Carr St., Houston, TX 77026

Telephone: 713.229.7300

Website: www.houstonbarc.com

The self-defeating irony here is that, as always, the expanded penalty bill for animal care now passes to the people who are trying to do the right thing for their pets and the community – as it also provides those who have free ranging unaltered animals to look the other way as their “pets” reproduce by their opportunities to answer nature’s call – and for the owners of potentially dangerous dogs with simply another reason to avoid the cost of regulation – and regular rabies vaccinations.

When I mailed our payment yesterday at a suburban post office, I told the postal service to be careful with the envelope getting there because we were paying our dog’s testicle tax.

“His what?” The postman asked in laughter and genuine curiosity.

Once I briefly explained the $60 fee it contained, the postal service worker added, “Ouch! – Well, if that’s how things are going to be, I’m going home tonight to tell my dog that he’s just got to find another place to live!”

There needs to be a way to control the overpopulation of unwanted animals without passing laws that only punish the few who obey them.


10 Responses to “Our Shih Tzu Morti and the Houston Testicle Tax”

  1. don matlosz Says:

    Because you are a member of the upper crust of Houston society it’s time for you to be bold. Get an exotic animal like a water buffalo
    or hippo.and test the policy of castration without equal representation

  2. Bobby Copus Says:

    does this also apply to male humans?

  3. stanfromtacoma Says:

    If Houston is like Tacoma you will get just about zero worth out of your tax dollars. Years ago there was a cat on my property —not mine— who was more dead than alive. I actually thought the cat was dead and I got a shovel out to bury it. As I moved what I thought was the dead cat with the shovel it let out a pitiful sound. Off I went into my house. I called Tacoma’s animal control on my landline and learned that since it was President’s Day weekend no one was going to arrive at my house to take care of this cat on my property until Tuesday. . After letting the operator know that I dutifully paid my yearly pet license to the city of Tacoma so that I could call them to handle situations like this and giving her an earful about the city taking my money and giving me nothing in return, I got on the phone to the local humane society. They had no one to come out to my property, but they promised to be there if I could get the cat to them.

    Back outside I went with a bedsheet and gloves and managed to move the poor creature with a shovel from the ground onto the bedsheet. The cat was still alive so I put the cat into a large plastic tub and off we went in my car for a ten minute ride to the humane society. I wasn’t sure if the cat was still alive when I got there but I handed the plastic tub to the woman who was there to help me. I stayed around while the woman took the tub to a back room and a few minutes later the nice woman reappeared and told me the cat was alive when she got back to the room but there was nothing she could do at that point but euthanize it.

    Not sure of the morale of my story, but about halfway through typing it I resolved that I would write a check today to the Tacoma humane society. If anyone who reads this does the same for your local humane society that would be cool. A donation to Tacoma animal control is not on my list. It still grills me every time I write my annual check to the city of Tacoma for my pet license. Like Bill though I am an obedient if grumbling citizen so I’ll pay the tax while my cat and I are alive.

    One final postscript to this story. When I got the cat to the bedsheet I lightly petted the cat’s head around the ears with my gloved hand. The cat, even though it was more dead than alive, began purring. Cats are cool.

  4. Mark W. Says:

    The Houston branch of the Texas Wildlife Refuge sent an animal rescue truck out to my home on a Sunday night to pick up a baby Heron I found in my back yard. However, I suspect they wouldn’t have picked up a cat. On the other hand, faced with Stan’s situation, I think I’d have dropped off the cat at one of those 24 hour pet emergency hospitals … anonymously. I’d quietly lay the animal down outside the door and split, and then call them and leave an anonymous tip about a sick animal outside their door. Having just spent well into four figures on illness and then surgery for my dog, much as I love the fellow, that may be my next move for him as well.

    • stanfromtacoma Says:

      It is not pleasant but being there while a pet is euthanized seems more humane and honest than leaving a pet on the sidewalk and than making an anonymous call that the animal is there. I knew the cat had no chance no matter what I did. I did not have the stomach to kill the cat myself so I took it to a place where I knew it would be killed. Letting it lay outside my door and die on its own was not an option I could stomach anymore than killing it on my own was. Sometimes life does not give us pleasant choices.

      • Bill McCurdy Says:

        “Sometimes life does not give us pleasant choices.”

        You just said a mouthful, Stan. And that’s a lesson that goes way beyond choosing professional euthanasia for a poor dying animal that may land on our door as a helpless stranger.

        To get a handle on the lesson you have just stated in such wonderful form, we have to get past confusing “unpleasant choices” with some kind of unfairness that has been dropped into our lives.

        If someone drops a dying kitten on our doorstep, or the cat just gets there on their own, it isn’t the result of unfairness. It’s just life dropping one of those tough unpleasant choices into our laps – the kind that won’t go away – especially if we think it was unfair and just decide to put it out of our minds and do nothing in response.

        Thanks for framing one of life’s great lessons so well – and so succinctly.

  5. stanfromtacoma Says:

    Thanks Bill. As distasteful as that experience was I think I learned from it. If Tacoma animal control had handled the situation for me I would have learned nothing. My tax dollars should have paid for that service so now I can grumble about it. They should have had someone working that weekend. I am glad it happened to me and not someone who didn’t have a car or someone who would have been so overwhelmed they wouldn’t know what to do.

  6. Wayne Roberts Says:

    “Don’t tax you
    Don’t tax me
    Tax that guy behind the tree.”

    Common refrain around the State Capitol and other taxing entities.

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