There are currently two bills introduced in the Alabama Legislature that affect the operations of low-cost spay & neuter clinics. The House bill (HB17) is supported by animal welfare groups and many veternarians in the state. The Senate bill (SB25) appears to be a ruse. Under the guise of protecting animals, the bill could actually close most low-cost clinics in the state by forcing them to meet higher standards in some areas and provide a lower standard of care in others.
Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation, a non-partisan animal welfare group (that needs your support!) is urging Senators to reject SB25.
Dr. Joy Baird of the North Alabama Spay and Neuter Clinic offers these 10 reasons why:
1. Spay neuter clinics must become outpatient clinics — certain patients, particularly feral cats and exclusively outside pets, should be in a veterinary hospital overnight, confined, warm and clean, to allow proper healing to begin. Forced release of all patients the same day as their surgery is substandard quality of care. This could cause increased mortality post-operatively, and increased infection rates.
2. Spay neuter clinics would not be allowed to carry vaccinations, dewormer, or other prescription medications—this is in direct violation of federal law, as rabies vaccination is required for all companion animals, due to the human health risk rabies presents. Other vaccinations and dewormer should be allowed to be given on a one time basis on the day of surgery. The majority of spay neuter clinic clientele have no full service veterinarian and will not go to a full service veterinarian, as they can’t afford the office visit/exam charge. If spay/neuter clinics do not provide them with quality vaccines or deworming, they will go to Jeffers, Tractor Supply, or elsewhere and purchase a substandard product (or they may not vaccinate or deworm their pet at all). This is not in the best interest of animal health. In the case of feral cats, the spay/neuter surgery may be the only opportunity to administer vaccines during that animal’s life.
3. Spay/Neuter Clinics would not be allowed to have medicines, treatments, and antibiotics as needed to provide any necessary re-checks after surgery— Often our clientele is uneducated and will not follow post operative instructions fully. This creates a situation where patients are allowed to lick their incisions or be too active. These clients cannot afford full service veterinary care, and would not get those animals treated for these post-operative concerns. Spay/Neuter clinics should be able to dispense simple treatments like Elizabethan collars and antibiotics for post-operative complications.
4. Pain medications would be limited to a single injection the day of surgery— This is substandard veterinary care. Many animals need additional pain management for 2-3 days post surgery and this should be given at the discretion of the veterinarian who performs the surgery. Why is the ASBVME and the ALVPOA in support of a bill which so blatantly creates substandard care for animals?
5. SB 25 creates confusion with the current AL veterinary practice act— there are some equipment items that arguably are not needed for the “spay-neuter process” that are required in the current AL state practice act for all clinics to have on site for premise permit issuance. Examples of this include microscopes, fecal flotation kits, and urinalysis kits. The language must be clear here and spell out exactly what is required, so as that no contradictions occur.
More on the flip….
6. The proposed regulations on data reporting, particularly in regards to mortality rate and complications, is inadequate and discriminatory towards spay-neuter veterinarians— this should be a requirement for all veterinary clinics throughout the state. Why are spay-neuter clinics being singled out? Spay neuter clinics would not have a problem with providing this information if traditional clinics are also required to do so. In fact, we would welcome the opportunity for mandatory reporting of all clinics statewide because we believe this will provide evidence that non-profit spay neuter clinics do not provide an inadequate standard of care. This would protect our clinics against the spreading of false information regarding poor quality of care, which has occurred all too frequently as of late. Also, if only spay neuter clinics are required to report, how can they be judged accurately against other clinics?
7. Requiring semi-annual inspection of spay neuter clinics is unnecessary— this is completely unnecessary as there is a veterinarian in charge of these clinics just like any other veterinary hospital. No other type of veterinary practice, specialty, mobile or otherwise, has this degree of scrutiny. Annual inspections for premise permit issuance and unannounced inspections as needed should be adequate.
8. Other veterinarians must report complications from ONLY spay-neuter clinics — this is extremely discriminatory against spay/neuter veterinarians. Again, spay neuter clinics would not have a problem with this requirement if other traditional clinics were given the same rule. The ASBVME should be concerned with quality of care of all clinics, not just non-profit hospitals.
9. Veterinarians working in non-profit clinics would be forced to practice substandard care, and be overly scrutinized. Therefore, they may not choose to work in those facilities—as shown above, SB 25 creates numerous areas of substandard veterinary care and higher scrutiny for spay-neuter veterinarians. If regulations are written such that a veterinarian has total control of the medical practice of non-profit facilities, why are they to be treated different from other veterinarians? A veterinarian should be able to decide the type of care, medicines, treatments, vaccinations, and anesthetics used in their patients, regardless of the type of clinic they work in. Veterinarians leaving the few non-profit clinics Alabama does have would directly cause an increase in euthanasia rate, followed by an increase in taxpayer dollars spent in shelters.
10. SB 25 may indirectly cause the closing of Alabama’s spay/neuter clinics—SB 25 will reduce non-profit clientele by creating a substandard medical facility. Many people may choose to not have their pets sterilized, even for the non-profit rates. In addition, restricting provided services will increase financial strain on the businesses, and many clinics may not be able to financially keep the doors open.
The animals of Alabama desperately need these clinics, and the public is in full support of them. The non-profit spay neuter clinics should not be hindered by SB 25. Please stop this bill and support the common sense alternative of HB 17.