GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- A new proposal to regulate mobile service businesses in Clay County, like the mobile vet clinic Cheap Shots, is causing concern among pet owners who rely on the services.
"I had to give up my primary veterinarian because I could no longer afford it, it was budgeting out my medical expenses and food for my animals, which I will never give up," said Julia O'Sullivan, a Clay County resident.
O'Sullivan is a widow and has four dogs which she considered her family. She says when she switched toCheap Shots shesaved about a $100 per visit. The mobile clinic doesn't charge for the visit, only the services, which is the main reason why many senior citizens likeJoyce Motley chose to leavetheir vets.
"They cost $58 just to see the vet. I don't have that kind of money," said Motley.
Now she, along with other residents who rely on Cheap Shots are concerned an ordinance to regulate the mobile businesses would cause them to go out of business.
"It would be so prohibitive, so costly, that we couldn't possibly do it. We couldn't even advertise," said David Watkins, owner of Cheap Shops mobile clinic.
The clinic comes to Clay County every five to six weeks. Watkins says if the ordinance is approved, it would place limits on the operation like only four hours per visit, in addition to extra costs for permits. Some local business owners say this is what's needed to level the playing field and have each vet compete fairly.
"Those of us that are business owners in Clay County, that live in Clay County, work in Clay County, employ people in Clay County, keep our money here, you know, pay our taxes here; it's a bit disconcerting when somebody is able to kind of come in and fly by night and zip out on again and not have to pay those taxes and basically doesn't contribute to the community," said Michelle Stallions, owner of Green Cove Animal Hospital.
The mobile clinic owner says they are regulated by the state and they do pay taxes, but in Duval County where they have an established clinic.
"We have the same costs as they do, when we go out on Saturdays our veterinarians continue to work at our clinic in Duval County, we pay the same taxes only in a different location, so our costs are greater. If they wanted to, if Clay County veterinarians wanted to compete, they can come into DuvalCounty and compete against us," said Watkins.
Even though veterinarian serves are in the spotlight, the ordinance includes all mobile service businesses.
"To me it could be any business; it could be the dentist,the optometrist, the ophthalmologist, I don't want Clay County where I live to be filled with parking lots of RV's, buses, when I drive down on Saturdays and see people lined up trying to undercut legitimate businesses that have been here and established relationships with the community," said Fred Cone, a Clay County veterinarian.
The Clay County Board of Commissionersis having another public hearing on this ordinance at 4:00 p.m. February 12.
They could also vote on it that day, but reserve the right to amend it if necessary.