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Will ends bid to regain license; after delays, ‘heart not into it’ / April 08, 2021
Longtime Halifax County veterinarian Dr. William “Bill” Will is dropping his bid to regain his license from the state after working to reverse a suspension that put his Love Shop Veterinary Clinic mostly out of business in early spring of 2020.

Will, in an interview this week, described a rollercoaster over the past year dealing with the state’s licensing board, and said he could see no apparent end to an exhausting bureaucratic process.

“The waiting for processing paperwork has gotten to be too long,” said Will. “My heart just isn’t in it anymore.

“Even if I got the license, I’d have to wait for the clinic to be inspected, and would I be placed at the end of the list,” he said.

Last month Will made a decision to remove his application with the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine to have his license reinstated, which will come as a bitter disappointment to the countless clients — area pet owners, animal rescue groups and others — who had hoped once again to rely on the services of his low-cost clinic.

The impending shutdown of Love Shop Veterinary Clinic in March 2020, announced at the time in a note sent to patrons, brought out such a large crowd on a Saturday morning in early March that State Troopers reported to Love Shop Road to control the traffic overflow.

For Will, the ordeal has lasted over a year. In March, after telling clients of the clinic’s impending shutdown, Will was able to reapply for his business license, but then the pandemic struck and many delays ensued with the state with the processing of his request.

In September, Will’s lawyer finally secured a virtual meeting before the Board of Veterinary Medicine, and the meeting occurred in October.

During the meeting, Will was asked by a DEA coordinator on the procedures he used to discard of controlled drugs. As a prescribing veterinarian, Will was subject to Drug Enforcement Agency oversight.

“I followed protocol back in March — why were they waiting till then to find out?” said Will of that October meeting.

His next meeting in front of the licensing board was scheduled in December, but that never happened. He received an email in February, during the ice storm, that informed him he could possibly get a meeting in July.

“Give me a break, it’s been a year and a half since I’ve touched a scalpel,” said Will.

Will, who is in his early 80s, said the past year has brought many sleepless nights as the drawn-out reinstatement process wore on him: “I kept wondering when it’s going to happen.”

Although Will’s office has not been open for regular business hours, he has remained available for clients whose pets need grooming or nails clipped. These customers have been coming to Love Shop Veterinary Clinic for years. A few pets have been boarded there, too, but the number is less than usual as many people have foregone travel due to the coronavirus. With limited working hours, it was not economically feasible to heat the clinic facility through the winter.

“The work is spotty, they give me a call, and we make a time to meet at the clinic,” said Will of current business operations. “I’m not there all day.”

Putting the long process to an end, Will said he is looking forward to getting on with his life. He has applied for a job at Staunton River State Park. “It’s something to do,” he said.

Will expressed that he has slept much better over the past few weeks without worrying about what’s going to happen next with the clinic.

Since the first announcement of his business closing last March, friends and supporters have held out hope for his return, and worked to make it happen. Local pet groups and spay/neuter advocates have hosted fundraisers to defray Will’s legal expenses. A “Support Dr. Will” group on social media raised $8,300 to be used at his discretion. These funds may be used to bring a mobile veterinarian clinic to the county.

The license suspension followed a mid-2017 inspection of a Halifax pet shop that turned up prescribed medications that had not been labeled by the clinic, or identified for use with a specific animal patient. One of the medications that caught the attention of state inspectors is commonly sold in non-prescription form in farm supply stores.

The inspector who wrote up the infractions worked for the Office of Animal Care of Emergency Response, a unit of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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It seems like they were making it intentionally and unnecessarily difficult to even get a hearing. Par for the course with Virginia. Doing what they want with no regard to the welfare of the commonwealth.

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