The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends the Florida House of Representatives for passing H.B. 911 Medical Treatment of Animals. Sponsored by Rep. James Buchanan (R-Sarasota), this bill expands access to veterinary telemedicine, a vital tool that will help countless Floridians and their pets access lifesaving services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
As is the case with humans, a physical examination may not be necessary in many situations, but current Florida law only allows veterinarians to use telemedicine to diagnose and treat existing pet patients they have physically examined within the past 12 months. In times of disaster, especially in the midst of a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, veterinary professionals should have the ability to reach patients remotely, similarly to their human healthcare counterparts.
“If your pet has ever become ill overnight, when most veterinary clinics are closed, you know how critical it is to be able to get help quickly from a licensed veterinarian over the phone. Unfortunately, an outdated state law blocks Florida veterinarians from treating animals they have not physically examined within the past 12 months, even for minor ailments—posing a difficult, often unnecessary obstacle to pet care,” said Jennifer Hobgood, ASPCA Senior Director of State Legislation for the Southern Division. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need to update state law and increase access to virtual veterinary care. By removing barriers to veterinary telemedicine, H.B. 911 is the 9-1-1 that Florida pet owners need to ensure their beloved pets have access to essential veterinary services. The ASPCA is grateful to Representative Buchanan and Senator Rodriguez for championing this legislation, and we urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead by passing this bill to ensure it becomes law.”
S.B. 1370, a companion bill sponsored by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral), is currently up for consideration in the State Senate. With the Florida Legislature scheduled to adjourn on April 30, this legislation must be approved by the Senate before it can be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis to be signed into law.
For more information about the ASPCA, or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.