On June 15, 2016 the South Carolina Legislature overrode Governor Haley’s veto of the Animal Welfare Bill S.980 introduced by Senators Sheheen and McElveen. The bill puts in place critical safeguards to protect pets and pet owners and ensures everyone will have access to the highest quality of care available.
Key highlights of the law include:
· Labeling of all prescription medication dispensed to animal owners be labeled in accordance with state and federal law
· Requiring all animal shelters operating and providing veterinary services in South Carolina be subjected to the regulation of the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
· Veterinarians providing veterinary services in animal shelters prepare written or electronic records concerning the animals in their respective care and maintain these for a minimum of three years
· Animal shelters prepare and maintain records documenting the number of animals admitted to the facility and the method by which those animals exit the facility, whether by adoption, fostering, natural death, euthanasia, transfer to another state, or other means of discharge
· Establishes a study committee for animal care and welfare issues in South Carolina
· A mobile practice affiliated with, operated by, or supported by a public or private nonprofit animal shelter is prohibited from operating within eyesight of the nearest privately owned veterinarian practice.
The South Carolina Association of Veterinarians began advocating for these additions to the law because of the increased instances of negligent and inappropriate animal care from shelters and/or humane societies. According to Dr. Patricia Hill, former President of SCAV and current Legislative Committee Chair, “Often, veterinarians hearing these concerns filed complaints with the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners; however, this board had no jurisdiction of complaints against shelters. Interestingly enough, the veterinary practice act specifically exempted animal shelters from their jurisdiction and from maintaining medical records.”
Contrary to a lot of misinformation that had been leveled against this needed legislation, the law will not close animal shelters, spays and neuters will not be limited, access to emergency care will not be limited, and vaccinations will not be prohibited.