Task force in Texas

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The Texas VMA has created a task force to determine whether nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the state are providing veterinary services beyond the scope of their missions.

Texas law prohibits most animal welfare organizations from offering veterinary services to the public, other than spay-and-neuter operations or emergency procedures, unless the client is indigent.

Dr. Sam Miller, the Houston private practitioner who is chair of the task force, said, “The ultimate solution is to work together with the nonprofit facilities to ensure they are able to continue their good works for animal welfare and to provide veterinary services to the animals of those who are truly in need.”

Dr. Linwood A. Starks III performs a spay operation at one of the three clinics that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas maintains in the Dallas area. (Courtesy of SPCA of Texas)

Private practitioners in the state have been calling the Texas VMA to say that nonprofit clinics are proliferating and expanding services, Dr. Miller said. To address their concerns, the task force came to the consensus that nonprofit clinics should assess the financial need of clients before providing veterinary services beyond spay-and-neuter operations.

The task force hopes to meet with some of the nonprofit clinics to come to a common ground. Dr. Miller believes a key will be talking with veterinarians who work at the clinics.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas, in the Dallas area, is among the nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the state that provide veterinary services to the public.

James Bias, president of the SPCA of Texas, said his organization’s three clinics are in communities where most residents cannot afford market rates for veterinary care. For services other than spay-and-neuter operations, clients have to sign a form stating that they cannot afford to go elsewhere.

Bias, who is also chair of the board of directors of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, hopes that animal welfare organizations and private practitioners can reach a better understanding of each other’s thinking and even initiate collaborative efforts.

“There is damage that has been done over the years, and we have to work on fixing that,” Bias said.