Recent photos of the room in which animals are euthanized at the Manatee County Animal Services shelter in Palmetto, Florida have continued to appear in hundreds of social media venues in the past few weeks. The shelter administration issued a statement about the incident and the incident is now closed. The shelter administration is correct in saying that no laws were broken, but the shelter’s best practices were not honored in this incident.
Shelter advocates have found that the Florida Statute 474.202 with its section 828.058 is contradictory in its wording. Section 5 of Statute 474.202 states that “immediate supervision or words of similar purport mean a licensed doctor of veterinary services is on the premises whenever veterinary services are performed.” Veterinary services do include euthanasia. Section 10 of this given statute states that “responsible supervision or words of similar purport mean the control, direction, and regulation by a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine of the duties involving veterinary services which she or he delegates to unlicensed personnel.” Shelter advocates have resumed their demand that the Matrix report which provides for an onsite veterinarian who honors the ethical standards of veterinary practice be hired for MCAS.
The contradiction in wording occurs in the Florida Statute with Section 828.058. Paragraph 4 (a) states that “euthanasia shall be performed only by a licensed veterinarian or an employee or agent of a public or private agency, animal shelter, or other facility that is operated for the collection and care of stray, neglected, abandoned or unwanted wanted animals, provided the employee has successfully completed a 16-hour euthanasia technician certification course.” Paragraph 4 (a) continues with its contradiction with its statement that ” a certified vet tech who is an employee or agent as defined in the subsection may perform euthanasia without completing the certification required by this subsection.” The law as stated provides for no supervision of a veterinarian technician and its last words contradict the entire law with the statement that the technician actually does not have to complete the veterinary technician course in euthanization. It has become clear that work must be done to re-write this law.
Shelter advocates have become aware that this law is contradictory and disturbing. No laws were broken by the recent incident, but the incident clearly shows that best practices were not followed. A major part of the No Kill Equation demands that a shelter be accountable in its public relations. The shelter administration has an obligation to honor the Matrix report and hire an onsite veterinarian who honors the ethics of the veterinary code. The new challenge for 2016 includes an effort to go forward in an effort to clarify the Florida statutes on who may perform euthanasia as a veterinary service in a county shelter. .