By Brandon Moseley
On Tuesday, Representative Patricia Todd (D) from Birmingham told ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ that her legislation to allow non-profit owned spay/neuter clinics to remain open in Alabama, House Bill 188, should come before the Senate on Thursday.
House Bill 188 would made it lawful for veterinarians to work for non-profit owned spay and neuter clinics and would allow existing clinics to operate legally in Alabama. 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 on the floor of the House 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. Todd’s bill has already passed the Alabama House of Representatives by a margin of 79 to 14.
The Senate has already passed a competing bill addressing the spay/neuter clinics. Senator Bussman (R) from Cullman sponsored Senate Bill 25. Sen. Bussman said, “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’s legislation has already passed in the Senate and still has to pass the House.
‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ asked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) their position. Sherry Rout, the state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southern region said: “The ASPCA supports HB 188, which will allow spay/neuter clinics statewide to continue to operate and provide an invaluable service to the people of Alabama. Each year, millions of cats and dogs are euthanized as a result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying and neutering. We urge the Senate to pass this legislation.”
Representative Todd said that the main difference between the two bills is that her bill allows the spay and neuter clinics to vaccinate the animals and give flea and tick treatments at the time of the surgery. Todd said that the Bussman bill would prohibit the non-profit spay and neuter clinics from performing those services or to even hold the animal over night.
Director Rout said 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 our communities.
If neither bill passes both Houses and is signed by the Governor then the four spay/neuter clinics currently operating in Alabama could potentially be closed by the Veterinary Board that inspects and regulates state veterinary facilities. When Todd’s earlier legislation failed in the Senate in 2012, legislators asked the Board to delay any action on the spay and neuter clinics until after the legislature deals with the issue in the 2013 legislative session.
By Brandon Moseley