Non-profit vet clinics oppose state-mandated rule proposals - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Non-profit vet clinics oppose state-mandated rule proposals

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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A proposed set of state-mandated rules could close down Alabama's four non-profit veterinary clinics for good.

The Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners drafted a series of amendments to the state's current veterinary administrative codes that regulate vet clinics in Alabama.

The board will hold a rulemaking hearing on October 10 in Montgomery to discuss proposals and amendments to the current code.

A rule stating non-veterinarians cannot provide equipment or hire vets at a facility is one of the most contentious among the series of proposals.

Dr. Joy Baird, who works at North Alabama Spay-Neuter Clinic in Huntsville, said this particular rule threatens non-profit vet clinics specifically.

Even though Baird is a certified veterinary doctor, her facility is considered a "non-veterinarian" one because it is non-profit based and not owned by a vet as in a traditional practice.

Baird said the proposed rules, if passed, would eliminate resources for non-profit clinics. She said the impacts could be far-reaching.

"It's been shown in numerous studies that targeted, low-cost spay neuter reduces intake at shelters, at humane societies; so we're reducing not only euthanasia, but also taxpayer dollars," Baird said.

Those opposing the new rules said the state board is suggesting non-profit clinics do not ensure the best quality of care.

"I have worked at many for-profit vet hospitals that have worse quality of care, that have worse facilities than this operation. I think they should look for quality of care at all clinics, and not singling out the non-profit organization," said Baird.

Opponents of the rules also said shutting down non-profits would ultimately cause an overpopulation in stray pets in Alabama.

Collectively, all four non-profit vet clinics in the state have performed about 100,000 spay and neuter surgeries, according to Baird.

The ASBVME declined to discuss the reasoning behind the proposed rules but executive director Tammy Wallace released a statement that said in part:

"The rules do not change existing law but addresses and clarifies the Alabama Veterinary Practice Act…The called Rulesmaking Hearing for October 10 is not a disciplinary hearing and will not address any such actions by the ASBVME."

The hearing is scheduled at 8 Commerce Street on the fifth floor in Montgomery at 9 a.m.

Meantime, the non-profits have a set up a petition urging that the set of rules do not pass. That petition can be found here.

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