Idaho VMA, Idaho Humane Society sign accord

Published on May 13, 2015
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The Idaho Humane Society will begin limiting many of its veterinary services for the general public to only lower-income pet owners under the terms of a new agreement with the Idaho VMA that became effective in May.

The IVMA announced the accord in April after nearly two years of discussions and negotiations with the humane society involving local leaders and state legislators, heading off potential legislation. The association had drafted a bill to require that charitable animal groups in Idaho focus veterinary services for the public on low-income families.

Dr. Robert Pierce, IVMA board chair, said the state needs nonprofit animal groups to focus on low-income families rather than duplicating services for the public at large. He said, “Nonprofit animal groups are allowed very generous tax advantages and for excellent reasons: They spay and neuter pets for the general public, take care of strays and shelter animals, and help those lower-income families who cannot easily afford veterinary care.”

The humane society will limit checkups, preventive dentistry, and vaccinations to pets whose owners are below 75 percent of the median income in the county in which the owner resides. The society also will limit orthopedic surgeries to pets whose owners fall in the same income category, unless the surgery is an emergency or a referral. Regardless of the owner’s income, the society will continue to treat pets for injuries and illnesses and to provide spay and neuter surgeries and microchipping for pets, among other exceptions.

“What I think this does for the local vet community here is assure them that we’re not trying to maintain or develop a clientele of non–low-income folks,” said Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, the humane society’s chief executive officer.

“Everyone needs to have a regular veterinarian to get the wellness care, the vaccines, and so forth, dental care, and those folks that have the means to do so should be going to other local veterinarians.”

The agreement also requires IVMA and IHS representatives to meet quarterly for the first two years and no less frequently than annually thereafter.

Related JAVMA content:

Competition or coexistence? (Sept. 1, 2012)