Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners rejected proposed Rule No. 930-X-1-.39 (in a unanimous vote, apparently), thus allowing the state’s four non-profit spay/neuter clinics to remain open.
According to a story in The Anniston Star, “board members… faced a crowd of about 100 animal advocates and shelter volunteers” at yesterday’s hearing.
“The crowd, overwhelmingly composed of people who opposed the measure, cheered as more than a dozen people spoke against the rule change. Only one speaker dissented from the crowd.”
As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, this decision could have set a dangerous precedent had it gone the other way. Across the country, veterinarians working in low-cost clinics might have been accused of “perpetrating cruelty on the very animals they claim they are protecting,” to use the words of Eric R. Lewis, Communications Officer for the Alabama Veterinary Practice Owners Association, the organization behind Rule No. 930-X-1-.39.
But perhaps this case has set another kind of precedent.
Next time a group of veterinarians wants to band together in order to knee-cap the competition from low-cost clinics*—as opposed to becoming more competitive through, say, innovation—they might think twice. They might think about the online petitions and crowd of “animal advocates and shelter volunteers” that will show up in opposition. (Yes, even when you issue your press release on a Friday afternoon.) And they might, therefore, think that they can’t get away with it.
Best of all, they might think—really think—about why they became vets in the first place.
• • •
My sincere thanks to all of those who signed petitions; contacted veterinarians, board members, and politicians; and especially those who showed up in support of the clinics. Thanks, also, to Mindy Gilbert, Alabama state director for the Humane Society of the United States, whose press release opposing Rule No. 930-X-1-.39 I overlooked in putting together my previous post. My apologies!
* Which seems to be a myth in any case—see the opening quote in yesterday’s post.