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OVMA Responds to Multnomah County Animal Services Taskforce Report

If you are a Multnomah County veterinarian, by now you likely have received a letter from the Citizens for Humane Animal Legislation regarding a joint City of Portland and Multnomah County Animal Services Taskforce report. The letter implies that the Council and the Commission look to prohibit any “point of service provider” (this would include veterinarians, groomers, kennels, etc.) from providing services to an unlicensed animal in Multnomah County. The letter states that veterinarians would be permitted to provide care to an unlicensed pet if there were a medical emergency.

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association has received many queries from veterinarians who have expressed concerns about the letter.

We have been monitoring the progress of the Taskforce’s activities. Here are the facts as we understand them:

  1. Both the City Council and the County Commissioners have accepted the taskforce’s report as a body of work. This does not mean that they agree to or support all aspects of the report. An implementation team is currently studying the report and will make a recommendation to the Council and Commission in the coming month.

  2. A restriction on providing services to unlicensed animals is not one of the seven recommendations the taskforce has submitted to the City Council and County Commissioners in its final report. You can review the full report and recommendations at: http://www.co.multnomah.or.us/dbcs/pets/TaskForceLanding.shtml

  3. At the February 11, 2009 meeting of the Portland City Council, Commissioner Randy Leonard did state that he believes veterinarians should be prohibited from treating an unlicensed pet. After learning of his comments, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association sent a letter to Commissioner Leonard and County Commissioner Chair Ted Wheeler in opposition of this idea. The letter, and a response from MCAS are linked in the sidebar.

  4. The material on “Point of Service Providers” is part of a 16-page memorandum that one citizen member of the taskforce put forth for consideration. The specific suggestion to prohibit treatment of an unlicensed animal was not adopted by the Taskforce and is not part of its recommendations.

  5. The joint Taskforce’s recommendation #4 does address leveraging city and county enforcement and collections resources to increase compliance with pet licensure requirements. For example, other aspects of an enforcement model could include a requirement similar to the rabies vaccination reporting requirement, such as requiring veterinary practices to report all neutered or spayed animals to the county.

We are hopeful that the City Council and County Commissioners understand our concerns and recognize that any attempt to prevent veterinarians from treating an unlicensed animal is bad public policy and unacceptable to the profession.

We will continue to track the recommendations made by the implementation team and discussions before the City Council and the County Commissioners.