ASPCA Commends Florida Gov. DeSantis for Signing the PETS Act to Expand Access to Veterinary Telehealth

New law reduces unnecessary regulation, empowering Florida veterinarians to use telehealth to provide care to more pets
June 24, 2024

TALLAHASSEE – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing the Providing Equity in Telehealth Services (PETS) Act to expand access to safe, convenient veterinary telehealth. Modeled after Florida’s proven human telehealth provider statute, the PETS Act enables Florida-licensed veterinarians to use telemedicine technology to treat more animal patients, helping to address ongoing veterinary workforce shortages and bridge gaps in access to care across the state. Sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Reps. Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) and James Buchanan (R-North Port), the PETS Act received unanimous support in the Legislature and will go into effect on July 1, 2024.

Telemedicine is a lifeline that can extend support to the many pets whose owners face financial, geographical, or logistical obstacles to accessing veterinary care, including seniors, working families, and those who live in underserved or remote communities with few or no veterinarians. Up until now, outdated and unclear regulations in Florida prevented veterinarians from providing treatment to pets using telemedicine tools like video calls, unless they had physically examined the animal in person. Thankfully, with the signing of the PETS Act, veterinarians will now be able to use telemedicine to care for pet patients across the Sunshine State, helping reduce barriers that pet owners often face when seeking care for their pets.

“When the PETS Act goes into effect this July, Florida pet owners will immediately have better access to veterinary care through the smart phones in their pockets,” said Jennifer Hobgood, ASPCA senior director of state legislation for the Southern Division. “Empowering veterinarians to use telehealth can reduce animal suffering, keep more pets in their homes, and extend the capacity of animal shelters to serve their communities. The ASPCA is grateful to Governor DeSantis for helping the pets and pet owners by singing this critical bill into law to modernize Florida’s veterinary statues with increased telehealth options.”

“I thank Governor DeSantis for signing the PETS Act into law. Providing veterinarians with greater flexibility to offer telehealth services will open more doors to the veterinary healthcare system for pet owners who face difficulties accessing veterinary care for their pets, including senior citizens, working families, disabled individuals, and Floridians who live in rural areas and other veterinary deserts,” said Sen. Bradley. “Telehealth is a lifeline for pets during weekends and evenings when most clinics are closed and enables large, fearful, and senior pets to see veterinarians from the comfort of home, bringing essential care to more pets when and where they need it.”

“By signing the PETS Act, Governor DeSantis has updated Florida’s veterinary laws to codify pet telehealth, a vital technology that can do so much to help pet owners and animal shelters better access veterinary care,” said Rep. Killebrew. “Pets are like family for millions of Floridians, I am grateful to the Governor for approving this important legislation so that pets and their families can benefit from better access to veterinary telehealth.”

With the enactment of this new law, Florida joins six other states, including Arizona, Idaho, New Jersey, California, Vermont and Virginia, that have modernized veterinary telemedicine laws to enable veterinarians to use telemedicine technology to diagnose and treat existing, lapsed, or new animal patients without an initial clinic visit.

In addition to the PETS Act, Gov. DeSantis signed two other animal protection bills, including House Bill 273 exempting from public records requirements the personal information of people who foster or adopt shelter animals, and House Bill 303 authorizing an employee, agent, or contractor of a county or municipal animal control authority to administer rabies vaccinations under the indirect supervision of a veterinarian.

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