South Carolina lawmakers are discussing a bill that would regulate animal services, but a local non-profit says some parts of the bill take away freedom from pet owners.
While non-profits agree with more rules when it comes to the well-being of pets in large shelters and rescues, some are saying government is getting in the way of choices.
Certain services at non-profit animal shelters could be off the table for pet owners.
“This directly hits the middle class, which is right now, struggling themselves,” said Barbara Nelson, President and CEO of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare in Aiken.
Nelson said parts of Senate Bill 687 will exclude any owner who is not considered “low-income” from different services.
“What this bill would do is it would tell you, anybody, that you cannot have a choice of your care, for the healthcare of your pet,” said Nelson.
This bill would allow pet owners to take their pets anywhere for basic medical services like sterilization and vaccines, but it would limit other services beyond that to only low-income owners.
Nelson said there are some needs that pet owners won’t seek because they are too expensive, but non-profits give them a chance to give their pets better healthcare.
The argument for proponents of the bill is that these organizations take business away from private practices.
But Nelson said she pushes business to them by recommending new pet owners to make regular visits.
“Here in the Aiken community, we work very cooperatively with the veterinarians, we send them business and then in return, if we have a medical need for one of our own shelter animals, they will give us discounts on some services,” said Nelson.
With the low-income salary of a single person coming in at just under $12,000, Nelson said a majority of pet owners will not get the option for extra services at cheaper prices.
“It’s very important to us that animal healthcare is very affordable, so that people will take advantage of it,” said Nelson.
Another part of the bill includes limiting the distance to seven miles where a non-profit mobile clinic can operate near a privately owned veterinarian practice.
The Senate’s Agricultural Subcommittee will hear testimony on the bill on Wednesday.
Click here to see the full bill: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/687.htm