AUSTIN, Texas — There will be no action on a bill that could put low-income Texans at risk of losing affordable vet care, at least for now.
After listening to hours of testimony State, Representative Drew Springer has decided to leave the controversial House Bill 3806 in the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee. The representative has ordered a study on the issue instead.
Springer, chairman of the committee and author of the bill, is concerned that private practice vet clinics in his area are losing money to the nonprofits. He believes that those who don't pay taxes are taking away revenue from the entities that do.
For the past decade, Carroll Price and her 10-year-old border collie mix, Ash, have been visiting Emancipet for all her medical needs.
On Monday, it was all about Ash's flea and tick medication, which Price gets at a discount.
"I don't save that much but it's still expensive," said Price.
But, if House Bill 3806 had moved forward and eventually became law, Price may not have been able to visit Emancipet in East Austin anymore.
"I don't like that," said Price.
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House Bill 3806 would make it illegal for nonprofits like Emancipet to provide any vet services other than spaying, neutering and vaccines to anyone other than the indigent, or individuals who make $16,000 a year. For a family of four, that number would be $34,000 a year.
Amy Mills is the CEO of Emancipet.
"This bill is a huge threat to animals and to people," she said.
Mills added that if this bill passes, the people who rely on nonprofits, because they can't afford vet care, will just forgo vet care altogether.
And that will have a domino effect.
"They're not going to suddenly find the money to go to a private clinic. When people don't get the care their pets need, animal diseases rise in the community and some of those diseases are zoonotic so they do transfer to humans," she said.
Mills also said the bill's passage may be the end for smaller nonprofits.
"Restricting our ability to earn revenue to offset the free services we provide to the indigent, so when that happens a lot of nonprofits are going to go out of business," said Mills.
The bill would also require the indigent to provide identification before getting services.
If this legislation passes, it may leave customers like Price uncertain where she will go to take care of Ash.
"I don't want this to fall apart and go away. This is an excellent thing to have in the city," said Price.