June 27, 2011
The recent news of the threat by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME) to close the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic in Irondale has me devastated. Since its opening three years ago, this facility has made a huge impression on the humane movement in Alabama. The clinic has saved the lives of tens of thousands of animals in this state since 2008 by offering low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination alternatives for our citizens’ pets. To date, after opening just 3 years ago, the clinic has spayed or neutered over 33,000 animals. Every single animal that is spayed or neutered at the clinic makes an impact in our community. One may be tempted to ignore the impact of one animal, but statistics show that in seven years, one single female cat can produce 400,000 offspring. The clinic has made our communities safer, kept rabies and other diseases at bay, and best of all, has made the drive through our state more beautiful by reducing the number of dead animals on the road.
As the Executive Director of the largest humane society in Alabama, I know firsthand that the problem of pet overpopulation in our state is rampant and is not going away anytime soon. However, I can tell you that when the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic opened, I became hopeful that things could change for Alabama. In 2008, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society brought in 10,161 unwanted pets. That number dramatically decreased in 2009, when the GBHS received 9,192 animals. 2010 was a unique year, with the GBHS bringing in 9,709 animals, however, 1,233 of those were transferred to us from agencies in crisis in other parts of the state. As you can see, the clinic is working to accomplish a goal that should be top priority for all citizens of Alabama: to eliminate the unwanted pets in our communities and end the needless euthanasia of healthy animals in shelters throughout our state.
What is most concerning to me is the lack of transparency offered in the reason given by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for shutting the clinic down. In my opinion, the quality of the facilities and the care given by the clinic is not in question. The veterinarians on staff are licensed in the state of Alabama, and the caregivers at the clinic, in my opinion, appear to be highly capable of humanely and ethically treating the animals that go through their facility.
I invite the members of the ASBVME to spend a day with me at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. There they can watch as we receive an average of 30 unwanted pets in our shelter every single day. They can watch as our staff has to euthanize yet another litter of healthy puppies, simply for the reason that there is not enough space for them on our adoption floor.
I urge the citizens of Alabama to fight for the Alabama/Spay Neuter Clinic and the good work that it does for the Greater Birmingham area and beyond. Without their existence, and the existence of low-cost spay/neuter alternatives in general, we will never achieve our goal of being a no-kill community.
Executive Director, Greater Birmingham Humane Society