Photobucket Photobucket Therapy dogs spread happiness, love, and cheer to people who otherwise might be lonely, sad or slow to heal. This is the journey of Cayman, a longhair miniature dachshund and his journey and experiences visiting becoming a therapy dog.

Did you know that pet visits often spark good memories of a person's own pets? Dogs often can reach people and children who have withdrawn from the world. It's been suggested by science that petting a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress, and promote healing.



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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bummer, No Tax Break for Therapy Dogs

Bummer. Somethings ARE too good to be true. Figuring a tax break of any kind for Cayman's therapy work DID seem a little too perfect. So I looked into it a bit more and finally resorted to posting this question on Yahoo Answers....the source being a service dog trainer/advocate that has worked with therapy dogs in the past. I guess I didn't read all the finer details, or the sources I had read were not very clear in defining the difference in a therapy dog and a service dog, a common mistake.

My Question:

I understand that certain aspects of owning a service dog are tax deductable- but what about therapy dogs?

The therapy dog group I will be working with is eligible to receive tax deductions according to the IRS website. Can I get a deduction on his training? What other aspects can I get deducted???
The Answer Received:

There are no deductions or tax breaks of any kind for owning a therapy dog.

Some of the expenses of some types of service dog can be deducted as unreimbursed medical expense. Service animals are considered "durable medical assistive devices," the same as a wheel chair or walker and that's what makes their training and maintenance a medical expense. The IRS does not recognize all types of service dogs, including owner-trained dogs without documentation, and medical alert/response dogs.

A therapy dog used for visiting hospitals and nursing homes would not be medical equipment for you, so it would not qualify for such a deduction.

I doubt the therapy organization you are with gets a tax deduction. They probably get a tax exemption (to make purchases without paying sales tax), not from being a therapy dog group, but from being a 501(c)3 public charity.

There's a lot of confusion among the public between therapy dogs and service dogs. They are two entirely different things. Many dogs have jobs (therapy dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, hunting dogs, etc.). Only service dogs are addressed under federal and state disability laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Service dogs may accompany their disabled handler to places where pet dogs are not permitted. Therapy dogs cannot. Service dogs are granted an exception to stay in rental housing and in hotels that do not permit pets and are exempted from deposits and pet fees, because they are medical devices, not pets.

Legally therapy dogs are considered pets. They have no more rights than pets do and their owners have no more rights than other pet owners. Therapy dog certification shows facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes that the dog has received certain training, temperament evaluations, health screening and has liability insurance. It is not a guarantee that the therapy dog can enter any hospital the owner chooses. They may enter only with permission from the hospital administration. The reasons for getting certified are to get that liability insurance and to get documentation to use in convincing the hospital to let you visit their facility.


Neabear said...

Interesting. I guess it was too good to be true. I can see how it is easy to confuse the differences between therapy dogs and service dogs. Oh well, but you are doing a good thing training Cayman to be a therapy dog. They do bring smiles and happiness to people.

Amazing Gracie said...

I too was told that I could deduce food, training, etc for my newly certified therapy dog Gracie.

Oddly, I was reading through a volunteer handout from a local library we are preparing to do a reading program with, and it mentiond IRS publication 526 for charitable contributions. This was timely as I was just trying to get started for 2008 taxes. I went to the IRS website and also had to refer to publication 78 which lists acceptable charities for which deductions can apply.

After reviewing these, IF the organization you are volunteering with or for is on the list in pub 78, the eligable expeneses appear to be only uniforms required for volunteering and either milage or car expenses. Personally I keep a log of when I go on visits for mileage. Form 526 gives guidance on the type of records to keep too.

I usually send an email following a visit to the organization I volunteer for/with to inform them of the results of the visit, this also provides proof I was there.

Hope this helps someone else!