Spay-neuter legislation supported by veterinarians in S.C., Ala. gets left behind
With most state legislatures wrapping up, three bills aimed at defining the role of low-cost spay-neuter clinics were left without a vote. The bills in South Carolina and Alabama will be reintroduced in the fall, supporters say.
In the final version of South Carolina’s House Bill 3492, which was an evolution from its original form, animal shelters would have been permitted to provide any pet owner with three services—sterilization, microchipping and rabies vaccination. The bill also stipulated that shelters would be allowed to provide any veterinary service to pets in low-income households, as defined by proof of low-income status such as enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid eligibility. Shelters would also have been able to provide medical care to animals they owned, physically housed or fostered. Once adopted, pets would no longer be eligible for shelter veterinary services.The bill would have applied the same rules to public and nonprofit mobile clinics as well. All mobile clinics would have been required to provide pet owners with contact information for the nearest local emergency facility in case the pet needed immediate attention once the mobile clinic had left the area.
The bill also would have required dogs and cats to be sterilized before they were released for adoption. Owners were to be notified that they were free to choose their own veterinarian for the procedure and could provide documentation that the pet was scheduled for sterilization by a licensed veterinarian. If the owner chose to have the pet sterilized off-site, the shelter would have been allowed to charge a deposit to ensure that the pet had been sterilized. The bill also would have required shelter veterinarians to generate complete medical records and provide a copy of those records at the time of adoption.
The South Carolina Association of Veterinarians plans to support the reintroduction of the bill in the next legislative session.
In Alabama, Senate Bill 25 would have allowed nonprofit facilities to operate only as spay-neuter clinics and would have prevented the clinics from performing rabies vaccinations or treating parasites. The bill also would have required spay-neuter clinics to submit semiannual reports to the Senate health committee and mandated that veterinarians doing follow-up treatment for spay-neuter clinics report any resulting complications or mortality to the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME).
House Bill 188 was created when suggested amendments by the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association (ALVMA) were not adopted with SB 25. HB 188 would have defined nonprofit spay-neuter clinics as veterinary clinics with limited services. It would have permitted these clinics to provide rabies vaccinations and the treatment of parasites at the time of surgery.
Both bills would have amended the state veterinary practice act to allow for nonveterinary ownership, but only a licensed veterinarian can directly supervise veterinary medical services and make certain medical or surgical treatment decisions.
The ALVMA's HB 188 gained support from private practices over the more restrictive SB 25, which was supported by the ASBVME and Alabama Veterinary Practice Owners Association.