Nonprofit animal rescue and adoption organizations put in time and effort at a low cost to find new homes for animals in need, but they need support too. This week, Texas Sen. Jane Nelson from District 12 introduced Senate Bill 197, which will exempt nonprofit rescue groups from paying sales tax on adoption fees. It could mean a world of difference for Baby Gunn’s Animal Rescue.
The organization was formed by president Carla Stowe in honor of Gunny, her family’s dog who fell ill with lymphoma at only 6 years old. Baby Gunn’s mission statement is clear: It’s “(d)edicated to being the voice of the voiceless. Saving one paw at a time. In loving memory of Gunny.”
Stowe said the organization does its best to provide happy and healthy dogs to owners at a low cost, but she and her team put in hours of work and lots of money into care for the dogs before they’re ready for their forever home. Stowe and her team ensure the dogs have all of their shots, are microchipped and are treated for conditions like heartworms before they’re ready for adoption. The expensive process means they’ve had to raise their adoption fees in past years to accommodate for it, so eliminating sales tax fees on adoptions could help them keep their price low.
“I’m glad. I’m happy. It just thrills me. I hope it goes through,” Stowe said.
She said that even with clients who are excited about adopting a new dog, adoption fees can get in the way. Being able to lower that price could help change that.
“We struggle to get people to pay your adoption fees when you have to raise them to make ends meet more or less,” Stowe said. “It kind of puts the hurdle on adoption.”
Since Baby Gunn’s does the majority of the work needed to get a dog in tip-top shape prior to adoption, it has to charge adoption fees. But Stowe said some soon-to-be pet owners don’t understand that it would actually be more expensive for them to pay out of pocket for all the services the dog will need. She said people are often under the impression that taking in a dog they find will be the easiest and cheapest way to get a pet, but that if the dog doesn’t get proper preemptive care, it can cause health problems down the road.
“It’s kind of like that old country mentality, you know, there’s so many free dogs around, why pay for a dog when you can get one somewhere?” Stowe said. “But where you might find a free one, most likely you’re going to do the vetting on it, or none at all, and a lot of people don’t do that, which is why we’re in the shape that we’re in as far as all the unwanted (dogs).”
By putting in the hard work with medical care on the front end means Baby Gunn’s doesn’t just serve the Red River Valley, but sends dogs all over the country including states as far away as Washington and New York. Stowe said during the Covid-19 pandemic, adoptions numbers have jumped, as many people forced to stay home were looking for a furry friend.
If Nelson’s bill does pass, Baby Gunn’s may be able to serve even more people and most importantly — help even more dogs.