By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
There are two rival spay/neuter clinic bills: House Bill 188 and Senate Bill 25. Alabama State Senator Paul Bussman (R) from Cullman is the sponsor of Senate Bill 25.
Senator Bussman took to Facebook to explain his bill, “I continue to get emails and messages from people who are not totally informed about the spayed and neuter bills in the legislature. So let me provide more accurate information. First, the non-profit spayed and neuter clinics are presently operating ILLEGALLY in Alabama. Although their mission is an honorable mission to control the overpopulation of dogs and cats, they ARE in violation of the law as it exists right now. The Vet Board that regulates these clinics, intended to close the clinics back in the fall but was asked by several of Senators (including myself) to hold off and let us try to get some legislation passed. I am not opposed to these clinics but they must not be allowed to operate with an unfair advantage on our regular, tax-paying veterinarians.”
Sen. Bussman continued, “SB25, my bill, allows for them to operate and to carry out their mission. However, due to their non-profit status, it prevents them from doing procedures outside the spayed and neuter area. Many have said the other version, HB188, is supported by the AL Veterinarian Medical Association. That organization only represents a little over a third of the vets in AL. Also, many of the components to that Association adamantly disagree with the way the Association passed the support and have sent me letters stating their opposition to that support.”
Sen. Bussman wrote, “I have received letters from the North AL Vet Society, the central AL vet society and calls from the Jefferson County vet society – ALL IN OPPOSITION TO HB188. So, I am working diligently to keep these clinics open by passing legislation that can be agreed on by all of the parties. I do not intend to close the non-profit clinics as has been claimed. However, these clinics MUST be legal and MUST NOT operate with an unfair advantage. I feel very confident that we will get this legislation done in a fair manner.”
House Bill 188 was sponsored by Representative Patricia Todd (D) from Birmingham. It would make it lawful for veterinarians to work for non-profit spay and neuter clinics allowing the clinics to operate legally in Alabama. HB 188 is now under consideration by the Alabama Senate. The Alabama House passed HB 188 last week. Alabama has four spay/neuter clinics and this bill (if passed) would allow them to remain open.
‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ talked with Sherry Rout who is the State Director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Government Relations for the Southern Region. Director Rout said that Spay/Neuter Centers serve low income areas where pet owners are less likely to be able to afford full veterinary services. By providing low cost spay neuter services, Director Rout said that the Spay and Neuter Clinics will reduce the number of pets that go into shelters and which run loose and unfed in Alabama communities.
Director Rout said that the ASPCA believes that spay and neuter clinics can help curb pet overpopulation and suffering. HB 188 has already passed the House and is in the Senate where it is competing with SB 25 for passage. SB 25 has received a favorable report from the Senate Health Committee and could come to the floor of the Senate.