MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill aimed at making sure that nonprofit spay and neuter clinics can keep their doors open.
Representatives voted 58-37 for the bill that would allow veterinarians to work for the nonprofits that provide low-cost spay and neuter operations. It now moves to the Alabama Senate.
Bill sponsor Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, said the clinics are needed to address Alabama's pet overpopulation problem and to reduce the number of animals euthanized each year.
"We euthanize thousands of animals a year due to lack of placement, especially cats," Todd said.
The legislation, making its third attempt in the Alabama Legislature, has pitted the clinics and their champions against some veterinarians with full-service practices. State law now says that veterinary medicine practices have to be owned by veterinarians.
Opposed lawmakers questioned Todd on the House floor about the quality of care at the clinics and whether the clinics were truly altruistic. Rep. David Standridge, whose son is a veterinarian, said he has heard from veterinarians who have concerns about the nonprofits.
"Every one of them have said they have had to take clients in who have had problems with the clinics," said Standridge, R-Hayden.
Todd said the clinics are not competition to full-service vets and she believes only a fraction of vets oppose them. The legislation limits the clinics to performing spay and neuter surgeries and providing a one-year rabies vaccination and parasite treatment at the time of the operation.
"A lot of people can't afford $200 or $300 to have their pets spayed or neutered," Todd said.
Todd said she is hopeful that the bill will win final approval this year.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he supports the bill.
"I would like to get it to the floor and have open debate on it," Marsh said.