The Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is doing their level best to shut down the state’s four low-cost spay/ neuter clinics in some misguided belief that it’s taking money out of their pockets (I mean, not that they’d admit that it’s a money issue). Their last attempt shut down the Huntsville clinic for quite some time, and now they’re making another run at it.
A board member actually said that non-profit spay/ neuter clinics are unnecessary. I think what the board fails to understand is that people who are taking their cats and dogs to the low-cost clinic are NOT the people who would otherwise spend $200 – $300 per animal to have their pet fixed at a regular veterinary office, but would instead leave their pet unneutered. Any vet who believes that there’s not a kitten and puppy problem in this state needs to climb down out of his ivory tower and stop hiding behind the office staff protecting him from the many calls they take from people who have kittens and puppies and don’t know what to do with them. Hundreds of thousands of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized in Alabama every year. To attempt to shut down clinics that can help make a difference is the absolute height of ignorance.
Below, I’m sharing the letter that Mark Nelson, Executive Director of Alabama Spay/ Neuter, posted on Facebook. If you are in Alabama, please write to the board, to the Governor, to your representatives in the House and Senate (don’t know who they are? There’s a handy “Find Your Legislator” gadget in the sidebar, here!)
And lastly, wonder who the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiner members are? Here they are. I can tell you it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I take any of my animals to any of them.
Over the last four plus years, the veterinarians working with Alabama Spay/Neuter have performed over 46,000 high quality, low cost surgeries. Alabama Spay/Neuter is one of four non-profit spay/neuter clinics in the State of Alabama. Combined, the veterinarians working with these four clinics have performed almost 100,000 spay/neuter surgeries since the first clinic opened in 2007. Many of the animals brought to these clinics belong to people who otherwise could not afford to fix their animals. In addition, even at reduced rates, many of these surgeries had to be supplemented by the clinics thru donations and grants in order to be affordable for these families. During the first 8 months of 2012 over half of the surgeries performed at Alabama Spay/Neuter were financially subsidized.
All four spay/neuter clinics have, since inception, been approved, sanctioned and licensed by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. A couple of years ago, the Board attacked the Huntsville and Birmingham clinics. In both cases ownership of the veterinary practice was challenged. More recently, while arguing against the spay/neuter clinic protection act (HB156), the Board attacked the quality of medical care. This argument is interesting, since each clinic is inspected and licensed by the Board, along with the veterinarians performing surgeries at each clinic. It is also noteworthy that during debate over HB156, the Board argued to severely restrict vaccinations and testing allowed at the clinics. If quality of care is truly an issue, why does the Board want to limit the ability of veterinarians at these clinics to properly care for each animal?
The Board has also suggested that perhaps there is no overpopulation problem at all, and that the services provided by these clinics aren’t needed. The following excerpt was written by a Board member and appeared in the Board’s February 2012 Newsletter:
“This begs the questions-are these non-profit clinics really necessary?? I submit to you that they are not. In every community virtually every practitioner provides low cost-no cost services to the needy.”
I submit to you that if these clinics are truly unnecessary, why are shelters throughout the state over-run with companion animals? So much so, that the majority are euthanized to simply make room for more. I would also ask: if the services provided by these clinics aren’t needed, why have rescues, shelters and the general public welcomed them with open arms?
Glaringly absent from all of the Board’s rhetoric is the care and welfare of the 100,000 to 200,000 animals euthanized in facilities all over the State every year! Even more distressing, many in the veterinarian community have sided with the Board in these disputes with little, if any, factual information. I had the pleasure of sharing financial information with one private practitioner that heard rumors the clinics were making phenomenal amounts of money under the guise of non-profits. After spending an hour or so reviewing our audited financials, this veterinarian realized that what he had heard was completely false. We’ve always welcomed this type of scrutiny from veterinarians and individuals that want to see our operation for themselves.
The fact that many area shelters are reporting significant decreases in both intake and euthanasia is no accident! As expected, the nearly 100,000 surgeries performed by the four clinics are having the profound effect of preventing the euthanasia of thousands among thousands of dogs and cats in the State. In short, high quality, high volume spay/neutering is the only humane solution to animal overpopulation.
Now comes the Board’s latest attack on the clinics. Since the state’s spay/neuter clinics are all in compliance with the existing code, they’ve decided to write and approve new rules that would make it difficult for the clinics to exist. In a nutshell, no non-veterinarian can provide equipment or medications for use by a veterinarian. No non-veterinarian can rent or provide a facility for a veterinarian………..and, so on. The entire ‘script’ for their latest move against the clinics is attached.
So, this is how you can help. Every “interested person” has the right to a reasonable opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments, orally or in writing, to the Board about the proposed new rules. The Board must consider fully all written and oral submissions from interested persons about the proposed rules. We are asking that anyone who would be affected if the services provided at the clinics were no longer available exercise their right to make their comments to the Board about why these proposed rules are a bad idea and not in the interest of animal welfare.
All comments should be sent as follows:
Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
c/o: Tammy Wallace
8 Commerce Street; Suite 910
Montgomery, AL. 36130-5330
If you would like to send us a copy of the comments that you send the Board, please send them to:
2721 Crestwood Blvd.
Irondale, AL. 35210
In closing, there seems to be a clear agenda against the spay/neuter clinics, supported by a campaign of false accusations, rumors, and innuendo. We would welcome the opportunity to help the veterinary community learn more about the operation of these clinics and the good work that veterinarians do at these clinics, and to start questioning the false information being circulated. I can’t speak for everyone but:
(1) Our clinic is open for your inspection……..NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY! Come any time that we are in operation and determine for yourself if quality of care is an issue.
(2) Our books are audited annually, and those audited statements are available for your inspection. The notion that any of these clinics are ‘goldmines’ is simply absurd!
(3) NONE of the clinics are full service clinics, nor do they desire to be full service clinics! One visit for surgery, any vaccines, test or services are provided at that time. That is the entirety of what we are about.
(4) Finally, your Board presents themselves as a guardian of the public good. Any rational individual can, by their actions, see that this is simply not the case!
WE, THE CLINICS AS A GROUP, ARE TRYING TO PREVENT THE UNNECESSARY KILLING OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HEALTHY ANIMALS IN ALABAMA……………..PERIOD!! No other agenda exists! Please, join our cause!
Mark H. Nelson
2011: I think Buster Burbles would be a GREAT name, and when I find my musical talent, I will totally name my ’80s cover band Buster Burbles.
2010: So many toys, so little time.
2009: Off goes my sweet boy Terry, to get his fancy new eyelips.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: “See? My foot IS as big as my head!”