Fight between veterinarians, rescue/shelter groups will simmer until 2014

19073_1328412004899_1068922792_1009612_2782254_n.jpgSOUTH CAROLINA – A battle between private practice veterinarians and animal shelter/rescue groups boiled to the surface this spring over a contentious bill working its way through the state Legislature.

While the House Agriculture Committee decided last week to put the bill, H.3492, on hold until January, the emotions aren’t likely to calm down.

“I think they need to erase this bill completely,” said Columbia animal advocate Delores Mungo. “There’s nothing in this bill that’s good for animals. It’s only good for private vets.”

A raucous subcommittee meeting on the bill last week had to be moved to a larger room because people were stacked three deep on the sides of the small hearing room. Animal shelter and rescue advocates outnumbered private veterinarian backers probably 10-1.

Each person who spoke against the bill drew applause, despite the admonitions of chairman Rep. Kenneth Hodges, D-Colleton, against such outbursts.

“The overwhelming majority of us feel like pets are a member of our family,” said Joe Elmore, CEO of the Charleston Animal Society. “And when we feel like a member of our family is being attacked, we react.”

The S.C. Association of Veterinarians pushed for the bill, saying shelters and rescue groups increasingly are offering veterinary services that undercut their services. The private veterinarians claim that some of those services are done by unqualified personnel and that records aren’t kept or at least aren’t made available to them. More: Joey Holleman/

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