For several legislative sessions the veterinary lobbyists and Senator Danny Verdin (whose father and brother are both veterinarians) have tried to pass legislation which would interfere and dismantle the business models of licensed, practicing South Carolina veterinarians who have chosen to practice medicine in manner other than a traditional vet practice.  Mobile vets, spay/neuter clinic vets, shelter vets have all been targeted through legislation that sought to restrict services, restrict clients, restrict geographies.  Various legislations have tried to interfere with private grant funding, with families’ choices of what vet to use for what services for their pets, and impose medical restrictions on fully licensed veterinarians even with regard to treating ordinary conditions such as fleas, heartworms, ear mites.

 

Each year pet owners, spay/neuter supporters, sympathetic veterinarians, mobile vet clients and shelter staff have had discussions with legislators explaining the disastrous consequences of making pet care less accessible and imposing mission breaking regulations on vets who chose to work in the less traditional environments.  This year’s legislation was no different.

 

We just learned that the larger “vet bill”, S687

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/687.htm

 

has been broken out into three small standalone bills, and those three bills are GOOD bills.

S979 http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/979.htm

S980 http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/980.htm

S981 http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/981.htm

 

I would support a YES vote on all three.  However, we also learned that on Tuesday April 12 Senator Danny Verdin intends to place an amendment on one of those bills as it comes to the floor, reintroducing some of the restrictions, potentially restrictions on services by not for profits and restrictions on the distance a not for profit mobile program can locate to a for profit private clinic.  Until we see the amendment we can’t be sure, but this we know … this amendment will contain the portions of the bill that could not be passed in normal process, and would provide protectionism, limit services for pets and families, and impose a double standard on one group of veterinarians and the business models they choose to use to serve their clients.  Verdin is vowing to block any animal welfare bills until he gets his way with this “vet protectionism” bill … EVEN the “gas chamber” bill – a bill which finally would have outlawed the horrific practice of gassing cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens to death in South Carolina!

 

I have heard tales that are being told around the statehouse to gain support for these bills year after year, many of which are anecdotal, unproven, and I attest from my years long experience in the animal welfare environment are just not true.  We heard Thursday that a Senator was going to vote for Verdin’s amendment because he was told that “ordinary employees at shelters, not veterinarians, are performing spay/neuter surgeries”.  A lie, which if true would be easily proven as there would be a long line of dead and broken cats and dogs coming out of these surgeries, the owners would have rushed to the media and to their lawyers, and these facilities would be named and shamed.  That is not happening.

 

In order to pass the three good bills and defeat the rotten amendment we need help.  Take on board the info above and call YOUR South Carolina Senator and ask them to vote NO to any amendments placed on any of these bills listed above.

 

If you does not know who your Senator is, use this

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/legislatorssearch.php

 

If you know who your senator is use this

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?chamber=B

 

Then share this information with your sphere of influence and get as many people to make as many calls as possible between now and Tuesday morning.  Be respectful – some of these Senators will already be supporting us, so we are not calling to complain, just to explain and urge.

 

If you would like to call through all the Senators, leaving them a message asking for their help in voting NO on any amendments which would impose disastrous restrictions, you can find contact info for all SC Senators at the link above.

 

Please understand, this bill would set a precedent for any services that could be delivered in any industry in South Carolina by helping organizations.  SCANPO (South Carolina Association of Non Profit Organizations) recognized the danger of going down this path of interference with grants, business models, and restrictions of services and sent a letter to legislators last year warning them of the consequences of passing a bill like this which protects one segment of an industry while penalizing another (email me for a copy of that letter karenmartin_1@charter.net ).  Protectionism in any industry is bad for our state’s economy, quality of life, and blocks helping organizations from providing much needed services to SC citizens.  SCANPO even suggests that these bills could have anti-trust implications.