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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
The State Veterinary Medical Examiners Board decided against a new rule that could have shut down much of the state's non-profit spay/neuter clinics.
About 100 people packed into a conference room in downtown Montgomery, with even more in overflows, for the meeting of the board. Everyone who signed up to speak against the rule made similar arguments before the board.
"We cannot afford what the vets charge" said Betty Kramer from Barbour County. "The people cannot afford to pay it."
At issue was a proposal that would have required that only places of business with veterinary licenses could hire doctors to perform neuter and spay procedures. Since the non-profit groups aren't animal hospitals, many of them wouldn't have been able to hire doctors to perform the procedures. Many spay and neuter clinics charge a fraction of the cost that animal hospitals or veterinarian offices charge for the same procedure.
"Today was a great day for animal welfare across the state of Alabama" said Rachel Tears, the Executive Director of the Alabama Animal Alliance, a spay and neuter clinic in Montgomery. "We're just elated that we're going to be able to continue our spay/neuter services across Alabama."
More than 25 people spoke to the board Wednesday morning. At times the speakers would draw cheers from the overflow crowd.
"Honestly this is all about greed. That is all this boils down to is you people are greedy" said Tracy Colvin from Moody, AL. She was one of several who argued that the proposed rule was a ploy by veterinarians across the state to cash in on low-cost spay and neuter clinics.
In the days before the meeting, several state lawmakers urged the board to not act on the rule, saying that they wanted the legislature to address the issue during the 2013 Regular Session which begins in February.
When the board returned for its executive session in the afternoon, it decided to not adopt the new rule on the advice of legal counsel. Alyce Addison, who is also a Deputy Attorney General with the State of Alabama, said that she had advised the board that adopting the rule restricting spay and neuter clinics could be considered lawmaking, which is not the job of the board. She said the board had informed her that it was going to vote however she directed them from a legal standpoint.