Back in May of 2014 the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) made a decision that the veterinary care at animal shelters should be the same standard as that in private practice.
There is a natural difference in the standard because of budgetary constraints. That should be obvious. There is more money in the private sector where veterinary care is of a high standard, records are kept, and I guess pet insurance pays for some of the care. In shelters the cat’s medical history is generally unknown.
Because of budgetary and practical constraints veterinary care at shelters is more like the sort of care doctors deliver to humans in a war zone. It is pared back to basics and only certain individual cats get the essential care needed within an environment where disease prevention is the primary concern and where staffers do a lot of the quasi-veterinary work.
If the TBVME insists on the same standard across the board, shelters will be inclined to euthanize more of their cats and dogs in order to save costs elsewhere. There will be an increase in shelter deaths. This is supported by the fact that shelter staffers can buy euthanasia drugs and deliver them without veterinary supervision.
The argument goes that the TBVME decision substantially undermines shelter efforts to reduce euthanasia rates and head towards genuine no-kill status.
The vets decision appears to have been ill-thought out. The consequences have not been properly foreseen.
As a result their decision has been challenged by Dr. Jefferson a champion of low-cost and effective shelter medicine. As I understand it, she is suing in the local courts to overturn the veterinarians decision which appears to have been made to enhance their income rather than improve animal welfare.
- The idea for this article came from Cindy Shepard. I hope I have the facts correct. If not please add and correct in a comment.