Veterinarians in South Carolina are fighting to pass legislation that will limit the low-cost and free services that area shelter groups can offer, according to an article in The Post and Courier.
The proposed legislation, which is the subject of ongoing negotiation between veterinarians and shelter groups, is focused on limiting the services shelter groups can provide, establishing standards of care at shelters, and ensuring that people who use the shelters' services are truly low-income.
Supporters of the legislation, including members of the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, told The Post and Courier they feel that some shelters have become competitive threats due to their ability to receive public money and grants, which enables them to offer steeply discounted prices.
Veterinarians also said they are upset about shelter groups offering low-cost services in addition to spaying and neutering including dentistry and declawing, which can draw clients away from veterinary practices.
Dr. Donnie Gamble, a local veterinarian and member of the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, told The Post and Courier about an incident where a non-local shelter group held a low-cost vaccine clinic near his practice. Gamble said he viewed the shelter group's actions as competition for area veterinarians, especially because the shelter is exempt from many of the operational costs his practice must pay to stay in business.
According to The Post and Courier, leaders of local shelter groups said they are not in competition with veterinary practices. In their view, they are providing free or low-cost services because many low-income individuals likely wouldn't even bring their pets to veterinarians for care.
The bill has been filed in the General Assembly and is a work in progress as both sides attempt to compromise, according to the news outlet.