A Victory for the Animals!
On Monday, April 1, 2019, the Agriculture and Livestock Committee of the Texas House held a public hearing on House Bill 3806, which would have imposed significant restrictions upon nonprofit veterinary service providers like SNAP. Had this bill gone into effect, many nonprofit veterinary organizations would likely have been unable to survive, and thousands of people and pets would have been adversely affected. Thankfully, animal welfare advocates from across the state mobilized and sent over 2,500 emails to the committee, and record numbers showed up to the hearing to testify—leading the fire marshal to require a large number of the attendees to move to an overflow meeting space. Thanks to the testimony of SNAP’s Executive Director, Dr. Mary Kate Lawler, and dozens of other concerned citizens, the committee chairman (and author of the proposed legislation) rescinded the bill today, as announced by multiple news outlets and confirmed by the chairman’s chief of staff.
In Dr. Lawler’s testimony, she said:
“In all my travels over my twenty-five-year career in veterinary medicine I find one truth no matter what state or what country. Animals do not have money, and animals will never have money; as a veterinarian I accept that fact and understand it may affect my ability to make a living providing medical care to animals. At the same time—no matter what state or what country—I have also observed animals experience pain, animals experience joy, animals experience loss, and animals have no voice to advocate for themselves when they need care, companionship, relief from suffering. Animals rely on humans for relief, and as a veterinarian I am committed and have sworn an oath to provide that relief.”
One of the highlights of the evening included this exchange (as reported at watchdogmary.com):
At times during hearing [Chairman] Springer would interrupt people testifying and argue. He asked Lawler, “What if Bill Gates came into a nonprofit clinic?” Angry comments erupted in the hearing room.
Lawler responded, “If that’s the only way Bill Gates would vaccinate his dog, I don’t care.” She later added, “But I’m going to face a class A misdemeanor because I didn’t ask Bill Gates if he makes money before I vaccinated his dog?”
Shame on those who deemed it appropriate to send death threats to the bill’s author, but kudos to Dr. Lawler and all who rose up to oppose this dangerous threat to animal welfare in our state.