By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday the Alabama House of Representatives passed House Bill 188 which made it lawful for veterinarians to work for non-profit spay and neuter clinic to operate legally in Alabama. HB 188 was sponsored by Representative Patricia Todd (D) from Birmingham. Alabama has four spay/neuter clinics and this bill (if passed) would allow them to remain open.
The bill was opposed by several Alabama veterinarians who think the non-profit low cost spay/neuter services would provide too much competition for the veterinarians. Rep. Todd told the legislators: “For every phone call you are getting from a veterinarian there are hundreds of constituents supporting this bill.”
Rep. Todd said that the spay neuter clinics can not expand their scope of service beyond what is spelled out in this bill. Todd said that the clinics must contract with an existing veterinarian and they can not perform any veterinary services other than spaying and neutering, vaccinations, and flea treatments.
Rep. Mack Buttram (R) from Cullman asked, “If a dog gets hit by a car in front of the spay/neuter clinic can they provide treatment to the dog,” Todd replied, “They can not treat the dog.” “They can not operate a full service veterinary clinic.”
Todd said that Alabama euthanizes 160,000 animals a year and that does not count the animals walking around loose getting hit by a car some place.
Todd said that the clinic can not be your veterinarian. They would encourage you to get a veterinarian for problems in the future. “Veterinarians are the only profession in Alabama that can only work for another vet.”
Todd said, “This is more restrictive than the bill that I had last year.” Todd said that a female cat can have as many as 400 kittens over her life.
Rep. Farley (R) from McCalla told Rep. Todd, “It has been a tough journey. You have taken what is good for the animals and you still have what is good for the animals. This has been a tough task.”
Todd said that the vets wanted to make sure that the clinics could not expand their scope of service. This version of the bill has been endorsed by the Alabama Veterinary Association.
Todd said that members of the Alabama Veterinary Examiner’s Board are still opposed. They are an association charged with regulating and licensing veterinary practice. Todd said, “For the last two years we have spent hours talking to them we have taken some of their suggestions in how to change the bill to suit them.” Todd said that only a few members of the board oppose it and they have been very vocal on it. Todd said that the Spay and Neuter Clinics still have to be licensed and regulated by the Board.
House Bill 188 passed by a margin of 79 to 14. The bill now goes to the Senate where there is already a competing version. In 2012 Todd’s bill passed in the House but died in the Senate.