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State vet board charges renowned surgeon over spay/neuter clinic

By Dr. Andrew Jones

dr ferrell

A recent veterinary college charge once again questions the real intent of veterinary governing bodies who state that part of their mandate is to work in the best interest of the pet owning public.


Here’s the specifics.

Low cost/High volume spay and neuter clinic in Alabama. The Alabama Spay/Neuter clinic in Irondale.

Seen as ‘undercutting’ regular veterinary practices.

Veterinarians complain, urge the Alabama State Board Medical examiners to investigate this ‘ low quality’, high volume, clearly ‘unsafe’, and ‘unethical’ practice.

In the most recent update, a judge ruled that all 29 charges against Dr. Margaret Ferrell be dropped.

In his ruling, the judge had this to say,

…find Dr. Ferrell not guilty on all 29 remaining charges in this complaint because none of the charges has been established by the preponderance of the credible unbiased evidence presented in the hearing.”

‘One of the Best Surgeons in 42 Years’

A respected board certified veterinary surgeon, Phillip Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS, Marcia Lane Endowed Chair of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare, Department of Clinical Sciences at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, visited the practice, and reported this.

While the ASBVME’s expert witnesses have not viewed Ferrell’s work at the clinic, Bushby observed her and her staff for five or six hours and witnessed Ferrell handle 17 cases. The ruling document, under the testimony of Bushby says, “One needs to observe the surgery in order to properly comment on it. Other expert witnesses in this case are inconsistent in testifying about something they have not observed.”

Bushby testified that, Ferrell is one of the best surgeons he has seen in 42 years. He contradicted the accusations of the board and its expert witnesses, saying Ferrell is well within the standard of care in the time she spends on a surgery, physical exams and post-operative care. “What Dr. Ferrell does is extremely high quality and exceeds national standards,” he said, adding, “Dr. Ferrell’s methods are very safe and used all over the country. Dr. Ferrell is not dangerous.”

Dr Jones Comments

The Alabama State Board Medical examiners (ABSBME), still found her ‘guilty’ on 3 of the 29 charges, in spite of the judge’s decision that she should not be guilty of anything.


Joey Kennedy of www.al.com published a news story on the investigation.

Members of the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners have made it clear they don’t support nonprofit spay/neuter clinics.
First, the board went after Dr. William Weber, the supervising veterinarian of record at the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic in Irondale.

After several months of questionable administrative hearings that were, at best, highly biased from the outset against Weber, the longtime veterinarian was found guilty on five charges, fined $5,000 and had his license suspended for a year. Weber, who owns Eastwood Animal Clinic, is appealing that finding and continues his practice during the appeal, which could last for years.

Now, the ASBVME has filed complaints against Dr. Margaret Ferrell, the veterinarian who does most of the spay/neuter surgeries at the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic.

One of the complaints the ASBVME has against Ferrell is that she “rejected the surgical training that she received” at Auburn University by learning an updated spay/neuter technique that allows, experts say, faster and safer surgeries.

Ferrell likely could have avoided the complaint had she quit the spay/neuter clinic, but she said she wouldn’t take the easy way out.

“Too many lives are at stake,” Ferrell said. “We’re talking about the lives of thousands of animals. That’s my driving force. I love what I do. I’m very passionate about spay/neuter and shelter medicine. I believe in it, and it’s worth fighting for.”

Are there caring, compassionate, trustworthy veterinarians that are working in the best interest of animals and animal welfare?


Look at Dr Ferrell

But are there others who are less caring, less compassionate, and clearly more driven by their pocketbook?

Yes again

James Herriot wouldn’t be proud.

Unfortunately just another tarnish on the once stellar reputation of the veterinary profession.

I applaud Dr Ferrell, and all of those who stand up for what’s right.

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones


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Topics: Cat Care, Dog Care, Pet Care | 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “State vet board charges renowned surgeon over spay/neuter clinic”

  1. Avatar Nena Shea Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 6:17 am

    I am always being attacked for my statement that the vets in the US with their exorbitant prices are a bit part of the cause of the abandoned pet problem.. They want to keep the prices high.
    Would it be possible to also post a link to the original article since now we only have your word for this event?

    Thank you

  2. Dr. Andrew Jones Dr. Andrew Jones Says:
    January 27th, 2015 at 5:52 am

    Hi Nena,

    Thanks for the comments.

    Here are relevant links to this story:


  3. Avatar sandra conley Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 6:36 am


  4. Avatar Dianne Sahakian Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 7:26 am

    I applaud someone like Dr. Ferrell as when someone has lower prices so more people can afford to get their dogs and cats spade and neutered people will get their pets fixed. Vets do charge to much for spaying and neutering of our pets and that is the reason a lot of pets aren’t done. So if all vets lowered their prices a lot more pets would be done.

  5. Avatar paula in nevada Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Google ‘Dr. Margaret Ferrell dvm’. Lots of current links to the case.

  6. Avatar Katie Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 8:34 am

    At last a vet who cares more for animals than her bank account. I wish there were more vets like her. I like her courage to apply a less invasive and safer method it is kinder to the animals or pets, which in return is kinder and cheaper for the pet owners, which should encourage people to consider spaying as a save alternative to drugs and overpopulation of small animals.

  7. Avatar jb Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Though I am not in favor of spaying & neutering for various reasons, appears to me this Vet is providing competent service to people that wish to have these procedures performed on their companions.

    The problem is the Vets that want to inflate the prices on these procedures. GREED! Plain & simple.

    I do not think spaying & neutering is the answer to lowering the unwanted pet population. After decades of the campaign is has not solved the problem.

    Education & enforcement of laws to encourage Responsible Pet Ownership is the key. There is nothing wrong with keeping your animals intact. In fact, it is healthier for them. The minor inconvenience is worth the extra precautionary steps to ensure no reproduction takes place.

    I have had many unaltered females & not once have I had an unwanted pregnancy.

  8. Avatar DMR Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 10:32 am

    I’m a Vet Tech & I have worked in the US Vet field over 20 years. I have worked in private practice, the University setting & shelter medicine. There isn’t just one way to alter an animal. In shelter medicine, it’s high volume so you learn to do surgeries fast. I’ve worked with a Vet that could do 15 in a day & another that could do 35-40! Low cost doesn’t mean low quality care. The surgery suite at the shelter was top notch. So this is yet again, a case of Vets attacking their own because they see them as a threat. There is such a monopoly on animal care in the Vet field that it disgusts me. I’m certified as a massage therapist for small animals and horses but I can’t practice because the Vet Board in my state says only Vets can. Someone needs to take the absolute power and control away from these Dictators. Animals would have more options and better ones if they did. No harm should be their only concern.

    As for altering pets, education is indeed a huge part of the over-population problem but it would be even worse without spay/castration programs in place. There are also health risks like mammary cancer, pyometra, etc. Having witnessed animals suffer and be euthanized because of these diseases and knowing that alteration would ultimately have prevented them, I am in support of alteration.

  9. Avatar Marilyn Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    The high prices vets charge ARE hurting animals, both in the U.S. and in Canada. I used to foster and was the proud mom of up to four dogs at a time. Now I am divorced and living in an apartment, and although I am allowed to have two dogs, and would love to have more than one dog, I can barely afford even one. I feed her organic, real food and just hope she stays healthy. About twenty years ago, my American Eskimo required cruciate surgery and I thought the $600 bill was very high. The other day I met a man on the beach who said his dog just had his cruciate repaired and the bill was $7000. Thankfully he had insurance. I tend to adopt older dogs so insurance isn’t an option. I honestly don’t know what I would do if my dog required a $7000 surgery. It would break my heart.

  10. Avatar HCR Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    USA veterinarians have huge lobbying firms both at the federal and state levels, and they are ALL about protecting and increasing the wallets of the veterinarians. Pure greed. I have witnessed elderly clients in tears at these so-called high quality vet practices. Why ? Because the elder can’t afford the treatment and/or they can’t afford to pay up front and “wait” for insurance reimbursement. Vets routinely bad mouth low cost spay/neuter clinics and try to convince clients that “inexpensive” is bad medicine.

    Veterinarians have far too much power. First do no harm seems to mean ONLY harm to their income. I have witnessed a client with a SICK dog being (loudly) “fired” in the lobby because “…my receptionist doesn’t want to deal with you.” And THEN provided NO referral for that poor dog.

  11. Avatar Marja Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    It’s a shame that quality low-cost spay and neuter clinics are not better supported. The chief reason I hear from folks who won’t alter their pets is “I can’t afford it”. In my area there are lots of country folk who, from times long past, have never considered cats anything but barn cats or wild animals. Then there’s the huge number of people living in poverty. A vet bill of $100 can literally break their family budget for a month or more. There are vet clinics that charge more than that for a routine office visit and exam.I thank God every day for the charities and clinics supporting low-cost spay and neuter and other veterinary care. I hope they will gain more and more supporters and legislative advocates.

  12. Avatar Freya Says:
    January 26th, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Exactly the same here in Australia.

    Fees and charges are exorbitant.

    I have a relative working at a Veterinary Clinic where the staff are rewarded for upselling and exceeding sales targets.
    The very wealthy Veterinary practioner owner has stated ‘if clients are not complaining about the accounts,then we aren’t charging enough’and accounts are more than often padded out with unnecessary services.
    Pets are prescribed a ‘Hills’ or equilavent dry food? product for their daily sustenance and health issues.
    The majority of Veterinary clinics still recommend yearly vaccinations,despite having the knowledge that the Veterinary Association have changed their vaccine protocols to three yearly.The public have not been informed and one cannot leave a pet at the majority of Boarding Kennels without a current vaccination certificate showing up-to-date yearly vaccinations.
    A kitten of 800g can be spayed/neutered and monthly worm and flea treatments are suggested,even for indoor cats! At seven weeks of age they can be adopted out.
    Along with a lifetime diet of dry food how can we ever expect our companion animals to live long and healthy lives.

  13. Avatar Nena Shea Says:
    January 27th, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Thank you Dr Jones. I will spread these links, as well as the link to your website where ever I can. Thank you for being a different voice in the sea of greed. It’s doctors like you & Dr Ferrell that keep up the hope!

  14. Avatar Trix van der Schalk Says:
    February 4th, 2015 at 2:03 am

    I admire Dr.Ferrell for her passion in animal care. She is a gem among the many jaded, expensive vets around. As a passionate pet owner – dogs and cats – I have experienced many caring vets but also vets who drive up the costs by prescribing unneeded medication and surgery. The greed can almost be read in their eyes.


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM