October 24, 2006
NewsChannel 19's Amber Stuart reports:
A local animal shelter may have to shut down, if lawsuit holds up in court. A Huntsville veterinarian is suing the Greater Huntsville Humane Society.
Dr. Wilson McManus is suing the Greater Huntsville Humane Society for more than $300,000. That's a hefty bill for a business that depends strictly on donations from you, the community.
Malte the cat has lived the Greater Huntsville Humane Society for many years.
"We're here to save the animals," said Kathryn Murdoch with the Greater Humane Society.
Malte could lose her home if Dr. McManus wins his lawsuit.
Michael Lee, a Huntsville lawyer who represents the Humane Society, said Dr. McManus is suing the organization for not paying him for services. The Humane Society said Dr. McManus stopped billing the group in 2002.
"His billing practices are ultimately his responsibility," said Lee.
There's more. Lee told NewsChannel 19 that Dr. McManus increased his fees for spaying or neutering animals, from $40 per animal to more than $200 per animal, without notifying the Humane Society.
Over a three-year period, that's a grand total of $332,000, which would be a huge blow to shelter's budget.
"It could very well shut down the Humane Society," said Lee.
McManus works at Apollo Animal Hospital, located on South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville, Al. NewsChannel 19 went there to get Dr. McManus' side of the story.
Dr. Chris Carter, another veterinarian at Apollo, told us "no comment" before we even asked a question.
We asked, "So what can we tell the people?"
To that, Dr. Carter replied, "Our attorney will release a statement later on."
NewsChannel 19 asked, "Do you know why he didn't bill them for so long?" Dr. Carter said, "No comment."
"Do you know why he raised the price from $40 to $200 [for spaying and neutering services]," NewsChannel 19 asked.
"That's not what happened," Dr. Carter said. "It's with litigation."
It's important to note fees are different with each veterinarian at the society.
"Some vets offer their services at greatly reduced prices, or often times no charge whatsoever," said Kathryn Murdoch.
The Greater Huntsville Humane Society wants to come to an agreement with Dr. McManus, which will satisfy both parties.
NewsChannel 19 tried to contact Howard Grisham and Jeff Cook, attorneys who represent Dr. McManus. Neither returned our phone calls.