Wilsonville clinic to only provide rabies vaccinations after complaints from local veterinarian, ASBVME

Published 4:39 pm Friday, April 18, 2014

By GINNY COOPER/Staff Writer

WILSONVILLE—Wilsonville Mayor Lee McCarty said he usually takes a tennis racquet on walks around the city to deter the packs of dogs that interrupt his jaunts.

After McCarty’s personal experiences and many citizen complaints about the dogs running in packs around Wilsonville, the city partnered with the Shelby Humane Society to offer a clinic providing low-cost rabies, feline and canine vaccination packages, free microchipping and free ID tags to all pets, as well as low and no cost spay and neuter surgeries.

“This will be the first step, to control overpopulation and under supervision of dogs,” McCarty said at a March 24 City Council meeting.

However, after complaints from local veterinarian Dr. Charles Thornburg and the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, the humane society had to rescind the offer of the standard annual vaccines and microchipping, and the clinic will now offer only rabies vaccinations.

“We’ve done these (clinics) for years, and we’ve never had the board call,” Sara Shirley, director of the Shelby County Humane Society, said.

However, Thornburg said he thinks the Shelby Humane Society and the veterinarian set to give the vaccinations, Dr. Rhonda Ellison, are operating in violation of the Alabama Veterinary Practice Act.

“This situation developed because the vet and the humane society were violating the law,” Thornburg said. “You can’t just let people loose and let them practice (veterinary medicine).”

Ellison, who has both a premise permit, which allows her to practice at the Calera Animal Hospital, as well as a mobile permit, which allows her to practice within a “reasonable distance” from her practice in Calera, said she is not in violation, but decided to only offer rabies shots at the clinic due to “harassment,” after receiving calls from Dr. Robert Pitman, president of the ASVBME.

“I don’t want the harassment, but am I in violation? No.” Ellison said, and also stated that Pitman could “really make my life miserable,” if she did not agree to his requests.

“Is it better to hold low cost clinics or have people not vaccinate?” Ellison asked, saying most who attend the low cost clinics would not otherwise vaccinate their animals.

To alleviate the burden on local pet owners, the Humane Society will still have representatives present from 9 a.m. – noon, to talk about low cost spay and neuter surgeries and behavioral issues. Through a private donation, the organization has $3,000 to help fund these surgeries, and will determine cost on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, those who attend the clinic can obtain the standard annual vaccines and microchipping by completing the necessary paperwork and making payment at the clinic, and then take their pets to Dr. Ellison’s clinic between April 21 and May 9.

“Our intent is to help people,” Shirley said. “Not being able to do these clinics is a setback to the community.”

McCarty expressed similar concern over the changes in the clinic, and said the Shelby Human Society “has been terrific” throughout the process.

“This (clinic) was really needed,” McCarty said.