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This week may determine immediate fate of the AL state’s nonprofit spay/neuter clinics…

A funny thing happened on the way to the Legislature passing a good bill that will allow nonprofit spay/neuter clinics to operate in the state: Del Marsh.

Marsh, the Senate president pro tem, who has in the past supported efforts to bring Alabama's archaic animal protection laws in line with the 21st century, has apparently gone rogue on this one.

Let me explain: Technically, it's against Alabama law for a veterinary clinic to operate unless it is owned by a veterinarian. The absurdity of that law is easily demonstrated: A physician doesn't have to own the hospital or doctor's office he works in. But the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is more concerned about protecting its market than protecting animals.

So for the past few years, animal lovers and, this year, even the state's largest professional association of veterinarians, the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association, have worked to get a bill that would protect nonprofit spay/neuter clinics, which provide a valuable service to their communities. The state doesn't have many of these clinics, but one of the most active is the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic in Irondale.

This year, a reasonable bill (HB 188) sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, passed the House on April 2 and was sent to the Senate. It languished in the Senate, until suddenly and without warning, on April 25, Marsh brought up, out of order, another "spay/neuter" bill (SB 25) sponsored by Sen. Paul Bussman. That bill passed the Senate, but, unlike HB188, it puts up so many barriers to spay/neuter clinics, it may be hard for them to operate under its near-impossible provisions.

So, under the guise of allowing nonprofit spay/neuter clinics to operate, Bussman's bill will destroy them. Among the restrictions: spay/neuter clinics cannot give rabies vaccines (required by state law) or even treat an animal for fleas or ticks. That's good, sanitary veterinary medicine, right? Allowing fleas to hop into the middle of a spay surgery can't possibly be "best practices."

About the ban on giving rabies vaccines, Mark Nelson, executive director of the Alabama Spay/Neuter clinic, said: "Why would you have something in (state) code that is for the protection of the public, for public safety, then prohibit us from fulfilling what we need? There's no way to justify that.

More on… http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/05/this_week_will_determine_immed.html

  • Heather

    I need an e-mail address to send a memo to, or some way to post it on here. It is of utmost important regarding Dr. Pitman’s recent representations – which are CONTRARY TO THE LAW – that veterinarians (other than county rabies officers) cannot perform rabies clinics, OR low-cost vaccination clinics. Someone please let me know how to share this.

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