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Vote of confidence: Halifax Council goes to bat for Dr. Will / March 12, 2020
Halifax Town Council has added its voice to the outcry over the pending shutdown of Love Shop Veterinary Clinic, where county veterinarian Dr. William “Bill” Will has practiced for nearly five decades.

Council members agreed Tuesday night to send a resolution in support of Will to the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine, which voted last week to suspend his license to practice veterinary medicine. The license suspension, which remains pending, came after an inspector with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found instances of Will prescribing medications without a listed animal patient, and neglecting to keep required records of prescriptions and procedures.

The resolution, which will also be sent to the state agriculture department, was proposed by Council member Jack Dunavant, who praised Will for providing veterinary care that otherwise would be unaffordable for many people living in the area.

The resolution notes that Will works on call at all hours providing emergency care, has treated many stray animals at little or no charge, and offers low-cost or no-cost spay-neutering of abandoned animals that rescue groups such as the SPCA take in. Will has given his time selflessly to provide for and protect animals, the resolution continues, and many pets and animals would suffer without any veterinary care should Will’s license not be reinstated.

The resolution further recognizes an online petition being circulated in support of Will that has garnered almost 10,000 signatures and rising.

“I agree 100 percent with Jack, he is valuable to this community,” said councilman Michael Trent. Bill Confroy also voiced his support for the 73-year-old veterinarian: “He has served our community for the past five decades.”

“It is clear there is a lot of support” for Dr. Will and for Love Shop Veterinary Clinic, said Mayor Dexter Gilliam as Council approved the resolution by a unanimous vote. After the exact wording of the resolution has been ironed out, the Town of Halifax will submit a formal statement to the Virginia veterinary board.

On Monday, members of area animal rescue groups met with Will and a Richmond lawyer to explore avenues for staving off the clinic’s shutdown.

Vicky Allen, vice-president of Halifax Dog Squad, said the group hopes the veterinary board can be convinced to reopen the matter and reconsider its decision. The de-licensing will not be official until Will receives a certified letter from the state.

Other options for fighting the ruling — such as filing a formal appeal, or reapplying for Will’s license after it is suspended — are not promising, she said.

Will’s lawyer explained that an appeal could take anywhere from six months to two years to resolve, while a license reapplication would encounter other complications, such as having to reapply to the DEA for authorization to prescribe medications.

Either way, the clinic would be idle for a prolonged period of time.

“That would be too long not to practice, then jump back in,” said Allen.

The hope among Will’s supporters is that letters, e-mails and other contacts will bring about a change in heart with members of the veterinary board, which operates under the Virginia Department of Health Professions, a unit of the state Department of Health.

“We’ve been told e-mails are full and letters are being returned, their boxes are so full,” said Allen of the board membership.

According to the website of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, enforcement against health professionals can take various forms, from reprimands to consent orders to the suspension or revocation of licenses.

The department’s explanation of enforcement policies does not address whether a review board has the option to reverse a decision, and efforts to contact the department’s media liaison for comment were unsuccessful.

The enforcement policy reads: “After reviewing the evidence and making a final decision, boards will communicate that final decision to the source of the complaint and the licensee. Discipline imposed after an informal conference may be appealed to the board, while licensees or facilities disciplined subsequent to a formal hearing may appeal directly to state circuit courts. The Office of the Attorney General represents the relevant board in any such appeal.”

Communications to the department should be addressed to: Virginia Department of Health Professions, Perimeter Center, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Henrico, VA 23233-1463, telephone: (804) 367-4400. The enforcement division’s email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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I sent emails to the board, have not heard a thing. I emailed senators and Edmunds, cricketts. Hopefully they will review this again. Keep the pressure on.

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