Success! King County’s mandatory reporting proposal off the table
A concerted effort by passionate members, pet owners, volunteers and staff of the WSVMA and PSVMA resulted in a strong message being sent to King County government that forcing veterinarians to report their clients is the wrong way to increase pet licensing. At a meeting earlier this week, County officials revealed that they would no longer pursue passage of an ordinance that would require veterinarians to submit client information every time a rabies vaccine was given to a dog or cat. Instead, a cooperative program will be developed so that veterinarians can voluntarily promote the purchase of pet licenses.
The resulting decision came after WSVMA and PSVMA members and staff spoke in front of King County’s General Accounting and Oversight Committee. Council Members Rod Dembowski, Reagan Dunn, Dave Upthegrove and Pete Von Reichbauer, who all serve on the committee, remarked afterwards that they were opposed to any type of mandatory plan.
Momentum for our side began to increase following an op-ed piece published on July 4, 2014 in the Seattle Times where the editorial board opined that a mandatory reporting plan was troubling and should be “put to sleep.” Resulting comments posted by pet owners made it clear they were opposed to any such plan.
Nearly 7,000 signatures collected from concerned pet owners and members of the veterinary profession were delivered to King County offices the beginning of August. Last names and street addresses of those that signed the petitions were redacted in order to protect their contact information. Another 1,000 signatures have been received over the last few weeks. These are combined with nearly 900 supporters who signed a change.org petition entitled, “Don’t make veterinarians rat out their clients.”
Now, WSVMA and PSVMA are in the process of developing a workable program in conjunction with the County for veterinary practices to promote the purchase of pet licenses to clients. The County has stated there will be no set quotas that clinics will need to fulfill as happened earlier this year. Instead, they’re looking to establish a cooperative and reasonable approach that will result in more pets being licensed through incentives to both veterinary clinics and pet owners.
The resulting success of our efforts demonstrates the value of organized veterinary medicine. Without our collective efforts, a mandatory reporting ordinance would most certainly have been passed by the Council and your client’s information would no longer be confidential. In addition to the volunteers and staff who have devoted many hours to this effort (Drs. Christine Wilford, Judy Hung, Mike Bellinghausen, Kate Schubert, Henk Kunnen), special thanks go to WSVMA’s Legislative Advocate Greg Hanon and Mark Funk, WSVMA’s Public Affairs Consultant whose high level of skill and expertise led us to this successful outcome.
When details of the voluntary program are finalized, they will be sent out to area veterinarians.