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Is It Legal to Crop a Dog’s Ears?

For many pet owners, "cropping" or surgically snipping a dog's ears can be a big decision. Opponents of the practice argue that it's unnecessary and inhumane, but is cropping a dog's ears illegal? No Nationwide Ban on Cropping Unlike many other countries, the U.S. government has not passed any law regulating the practice of cropping a dog's ears. Most laws regulating the treatment of animals as pets (i.e., not as livestock or research subjects) are left to the states. Notably, ear cropping is illegal in some parts of Canada, and all of Australia, New Zealand, and in Scandinavian countries, according to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. Despite the international disagreement over the practice, both the Canadian and American Kennel Clubs encourage and may even require cropping for show dogs. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) does not support claims that cropping ears serves to prevent medical issues in dogs, and the practice seems mostly to be for aesthetic purposes in certain pedigree breeds. State Laws on Cropping While a handful of U.S. states do have rules about ear cropping, there are no states that have an outright ban. So while it may be legal to crop your dog's ears anywhere in the United States, you may need to follow a specific procedure. The AVMA reports that there are only eight states where cropping has been regulated. Here are a few examples of those states' laws: Pennsylvania. In 2009, Pennsylvania passed a law making it evidence of animal cruelty for persons other than vets to crop a dog's ears. This law requires dogs to be anesthetized during a cropping procedure. Washington state. Cropping is exempted from animal cruelty laws as long as it's in line with "accepted husbandry practices." Since the American Kennel Club requires cropping for many breeds to show, cropping may be legal if performed by licensed breeders for certain pedigrees in addition to vets. Massachusetts. Non-vets who crop dogs' ears can be slapped with a $250 fine. Even if your state is not among those that have specifically regulated cropping, it is highly recommended to take your dog to a vet for the procedure. The AVMA reports that like any incision, cropping increases the chances for infection. Bottom line: Going to a vet for cropping can reduce your dog's risk of infection and give you the option of anesthesia -- which may be required in a handful of states. Related Resources: Ear-Cropping and Tail-Docking (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Dog Tattoos Controversial, but Are They Legal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Cat Piercing for Goth Look is Animal Cruelty (FindLaw's Blotter) 5 Animals You Can't Keep as Pets (With Some Exceptions) (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
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Filing Taxes Late: What Are the Penalties?

Just like not being tardy for the party, taxpayers shouldn't be filing their taxes late because latecomers are subject to penalties. These penalties are monetary and fall under either the "failure to file" or "failure to pay" category, or both, the IRS says. Here's what you need to know about late filing and payment penalties: Failure-to-File Penalties According to the IRS, failure-to-file penalties are usually more than failure-to-pay penalties. The total late-filing penalty is typically 5 percent of the tax owed for each month or part of the month that your return is late. The IRS can charge you this late-filing penalty for up to five months or up to 25 percent of your unpaid taxes. If you're late to file by more than 60 days after the due date (or extended due date), then the minimum penalty is either $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax. Failure-to-Pay Penalties For people who fail to pay the full amount owed by the due date, they're penalized by having to pay 0.5 percent of the tax owed each month or part of a month that the tax remains unpaid. Like the failure-to-file penalty, the maximum is 25 percent of your unpaid taxes. On the other hand, if you request an extension before the filing deadline and have paid at least 90 percent of your actual tax liability before April 15, then you won't be subject to any failure-to-pay penalties -- unless you don't pay the remaining balance by the extended due date. Avoiding Penalties The IRS exercises some leniency and won't make you pay the penalties if you can show that your failure to file or pay on time was based on a reasonable cause and not just plain neglect or laziness. If you foresee trouble paying the full amount due on time, consider negotiating an installment agreement with the IRS to pay off back taxes. To avoid these penalties, be sure to either get an extension to file or estimate the amount of taxes you owe and pay by the deadline. Even if you accidently overpay, the IRS will credit your overpayment. If you need more help, contact an experienced tax attorney in your area to figure out your legal options. Related Resources: What Are The Penalties For Failing To File Your Tax Return On Time? (Forbes) Who Doesn't Have to File Income Taxes? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Running Late? Submit an Extension to File Taxes (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) 5 Weird Tax Deductions You May Be Able to Claim (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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9/11 Crash Site Undervalued in Eminent Domain Case

The 9/11 crash site of United Flight 93 is actually worth nearly $1 million more than the federal government paid for it, according to a court ruling in an eminent domain case. A federal district judge ruled Wednesday that the site of the downed flight near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, originally valued at $610,000, was actually worth more than $1.5 million, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The federal government scooped up the land from its owner in 2009 under eminent domain, with plans to create a national memorial at the site. But both the original owner and the feds disputed how much it was worth. Flight 93's Final Resting Place On September 11, 2001, United Flight 93 was one of four hijacked aircraft which crashed as part of a terrorist plot. Flight 93 was unique in that it missed its intended target and instead landed in a rural area of Pennsylvania, after a movie-inspiring passenger intervention. The plane's final resting place was in a field originally owned by Michael Svonavec, but the U.S. government took possession of the site in 2009 under the doctrine of eminent domain. Taking land through eminent domain requires that the government take the land for "public use" and compensate the land's owner for its fair market value. Owners have the right to challenge eminent domain actions, and typically the argument boils down to how much the land is actually worth compared to the government's compensation. In Svonavec's case, he believes his land is worth "at least $5.7 million," reports the Tribune-Review. Under this estimation, the federal government would owe Svonavec more than $5 million, but a federal judge decided differently. Commission Made Correct Valuation The "fair market value" of a piece of land with a unique character -- like historical value -- can often be difficult to pinpoint. Typically the government would approximate the land's value based on its size and comparable sales of land in the surrounding area. Perhaps this is how the government came to its original $610,000 figure to compensate Svonavec for the Flight 93 crash site. However, a court-appointed commission in December valued the property at $1,535,000 -- a finding which a federal judge upheld on Wednesday. Part of its valuation included the property's "national significance and intrinsic value," which made it unique from similar parcels of land, reports the Tribune-Review. Svonavec may be upset that he didn't get the $5 million he requested for the 9/11 crash site, but it's more than double what he originally received. Related Resources: Flight 93 memorial site correctly valued at $1.5m, judge rules (Metro) Find an Eminent Domain Lawyer in Your Area (FindLaw) Can I Lose my Property to Eminent Domain? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can Eminent Domain Actually Help My Business? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
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