Alabama low-cost pet sterilization clinics may be shut down

Controversy is building over the potential closure of four low-cost spay and neuter clinics in Alabama, according to an article in the Gadsden Times.

The clinics employ licensed veterinarians but are owned by non-veterinarians, which is something the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME) wants to prevent.

The ASBVME has proposed an administrative rule that would ban non-veterinarians from employing licensed veterinarians in their businesses. The proposed rule would also prohibit non-veterinarians from renting or providing offices for veterinarians, as well as providing veterinary equipment or materials “on the basis of a lease or any other agreement for compensation for the use of such material, equipment or offices,” according to the Notice of Intended Action.
Supporters of the low-cost sterilization centers are adamant that the clinics help thousands of people who can’t fit spay or neuter costs into their budgets. They claim the clinics are necessary because many people currently have to make the difficult choice between caring for unwanted puppies or kittens, or paying for sterilization that they cannot afford.
The ASBVME argues that some non-veterinarian clinic owners are requiring licensed veterinary employees to abide by standard of care policies mandated by non-veterinarians, according to the Gadsden Times article. This, says the organization, contributes to substandard care at some clinics and interferes with veterinarians’ independent judgment.

The nonprofit, low-cost spay and neuter clinics had appeared close to avoiding possible closure by way of proposed House Bill 156, which would have exempted them from the administrative rule by allowing them to apply for premise permits. According to an article in the Dothan Eagle, HB 156 also would have allowed nonprofit spay and neuter clinics to hire licensed veterinarians who would oversee the procedures, as well as perform some routine veterinary procedures including testing for leukemia and heartworm.
The proposed bill failed on the last day of the 2012 regular legislative session, leading to the next step, which is the ASBVMEs Administrative Rule Making Hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 10 to discuss the proposed new administrative rule. The meeting is slated to take place at ASBVME’s Montgomery office at 8 Commerce St., Suite 910.

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