Other parties, however, have been much more deliberate in taking a position. Groups such as Alabama Voters for Responsible
Animal Legislation (AVRAL) have been campaigning in favor of HB 156 for weeks, gathering support from like-minded members
of the general public and Alabama's veterinary community through social media channels.
In addition to asking supporters to contact their state representatives and senators to vote in favor of HB 156, the has group
posted a letter from Robert Pitman, DVM, an Alabama State Board of Veterinary Examiners (ASBVE) board member. In the letter,
as posted by AVRAL on Facebook, Pitman states, "The ASBVE adamantly opposes this legislation that would allow every 501(c)
(3) nonprofit organization to own a clinic, such as humane societies, rescue groups, volunteer fire department, wild turkey
federation, bingo club, etc. This is certainly not in the best interest of the pet-owning public." ASBVE did not respond to
phone calls or emails requesting comment.
Additionally, the Birmingham News, recently published an editorial piece on in support of HB 156, stating, "As the law exists,
a licensed veterinarian must own any clinic in which veterinary services are performed. That's ridiculous, and is clearly
intended to suppress competition. A licensed physician doesn't have to own the hospital in which he works. A licensed dentist
doesn't have to own the dental practice where he works. A licensed pharmacist doesn't have to own the pharmacy where he works."
The editorial board has called on the state Legislature's Sunset Committee, which will review the Alabama Board of Veterinary
Examiners next year, 'to take a close look at how the board operates, how it conducts its meetings, its leadership and its
interference with progressive legislation that would make the lives of animals better and help pet owners be more responsible.'
The editorial goes on to say, "It can cost as much as $300 or more to have an animal sterilized at a private veterinary clinic,
while a nonprofit spay/neuter clinic can do the surgery for about $45 to $80. There's plenty of business to go around, because
Alabama has an unhealthy overpopulation of dogs and cats."
And while the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has not weighed in on the bill, its recently adopted policy on
the delivery of veterinary services by nonprofit organizations points out the benefits that these kinds of groups provide
to underserved pet owners and society in general, stating, "Veterinary not-for-profit and tax-exempt clinics and hospitals
provide access to important medical and surgical services for animals owned by the indigent and otherwise underserved populations.
Without such charitable services, these animal owners would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to care for their
animals appropriately. Improved access to care not only helps ensure that the welfare of animals is protected, but also helps
address public health concerns that may be associated with preventable zoonotic diseases, such as rabies. In addition, many
not-for-profit organizations, including community animal shelters and animal control agencies, provide a benefit to society
through rescuing, sheltering, rehabilitating and finding good homes for animals."
HB 156 is currently in a conference committee in the Alabama Legislature.