By Representative Allan Farley
On October 10, 2012, at 9:00 in the morning, Muriel and I were sitting in a window sill inside a 5th floor conference room in a Montgomery office. (No, I wasn’t about to jump). The conference room, and all the window sills, were full. This group was there to face-off with the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. (I felt sorry for the guy outside the door telling the people, as they walked past, that the Fire Marshalls would not let anyone else in). It was standing room only, and people lined the hall outside. The handheld cameras were held up high all around the room. And the Board Members looked like the “light bulb” was finally coming on. (Does anyone have a handkerchief? It’s getting hot in here).
There were several items on the agenda for the Board Meeting. However, this large crowd of animal rescuers were only concerned with one; the Board’s vote on proposed Rule 39. This would shut down nonprofit Spay & Neuter Clinics in the state of Alabama. This rule would prohibit any licensed Alabama Veterinarian from performing spay and neuter procedures at any nonprofit facility where the building and equipment were not owned by that Veterinarian. (Nonprofits and the Veterinarian Board, um, is the issue animals or money? The concern of the crowd was saving money to save animals).
During the 2011 Legislative Session I sat in a committee at the Alabama Statehouse and heard lengthy discussions on this same topic. State Representative Patricia Todd had sponsored a Bill that came before the House Committee on Board’s, Agencies and Commissions. (I am proud to be a member of that committee). Representative Todd’s Bill would have given authority to nonprofit Spay & Neuter Clinics to allow Alabama licensed Veterinarians to perform spay and neuter procedures on animals at low cost nonprofit clinics in Alabama. Our Legislative committee held a “Public Hearing” to listen to animal rescuers, Veterinarians, and Veterinary Medical Association Board members. Our Legislative committee not only listened, but we asked questions.
The October 10, 2012 “Board Meeting” was very different. This time there were no comments from anyone opposing the nonprofit Spay & Neuter Clinics. During our Legislative committee hearing, I recall asking one of the Veterinarians present if their Medical Board had an investigative arm that could look into any reports of improper treatment by a licensed Veterinarian working in a nonprofit clinic. His answer was yes. I asked if they had conducted any such investigations on nonprofit Spay & Neuter Clinics and suspended or revoked any Veterinarian’s license. His answer was no.
The Bill Representative Patricia Todd sponsored never came to the House Floor for a vote. And yes, it passed our Legislative Committee meeting with a unanimous vote. So, I guess our friends on the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners thought the coast was clear. Well, they were wrong.
On the morning of October 10, 2012 the Alabama Veterinary Board heard testimonies from people from Mobile to Huntsville. One after the other they walked to the podium and very clearly criticized the Board for their proposed Rule 39. At 2:00 o’clock that afternoon the Alabama Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners announced they had not approved Rule 39.
The men and women who packed the Alabama Veterinary Medical Examiner’s Board meeting on the morning of October 10, 2012 are heroes. (Muriel and I were just honored to sit with their group). They were tired of hearing the whimpers of the unwanted animals that fill our state’s animal shelters. They realized that, with spay and neuter procedures at affordable prices, we could continue to get our pet population fixed and hopefully reduce the number of animals without homes. I was extremely proud of the testimonies of the selfless efforts I heard, and the determined faces I saw. These rescuers obviously were motivated by the haunting memories of whimpers of helpless animals. On the other hand, The Alabama Veterinary Board was obviously motivated by the growls of the many friends of Alabama animals.
God Bless America!!!
Matthew 23:12 “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”