ASPCA Commends Florida House for Passing the PETS Act to Expand Access to Telemedicine

Eighty-four percent of Florida voters support expanding legal options for virtual veterinary care
February 10, 2022

TALLAHASSEE – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends the Florida House of Representatives for unanimously passing the Providing Equity in Telemedicine Services (PETS) Act (H.B. 723) by a vote of 118-0. Sponsored by Rep. James Buchanan (R-North Port), this bill will expand access to veterinary care by enabling veterinarians to offer telemedicine services to more pet owners in Florida. By removing outdated regulations that prevent veterinarians from providing treatment unless they have physically examined the animal, the PETS Act will help countless Floridians access lifesaving veterinary virtual care.

According to the Access to Veterinary Care Project, counties across the Sunshine state have low access to veterinary care. The state of Florida has a Veterinary Care Accessibility Score of 44 out of 100 – placing Florida near the bottom one-third of states across the country. The PETS Act would help address this gap in accessing vet care by breaking down barriers for pet owners to use telemedicine services.

“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 Unfortunately, an outdated and unnecessary state regulation currently blocks Florida veterinarians from treating animals they have not physically examined, even for minor ailments like fleas—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 crystallized the need to update state law and increase access to virtual veterinary care. The ASPCA is grateful to Representative Buchanan and Senator Brodeur for championing this legislation, and we urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead by passing this bill to help ensure it becomes law.”

A 2020 Mason-Dixon Poll revealed that 84 percent of registered Florida voters support expansion of legal options for veterinarians to provide telemedicine in Florida. More expansive use of telemedicine helps bridge gaps in care caused by the ongoing shortage of veterinary professionals in the workforce and it is especially helpful for senior citizens with pets, working families, and those who face challenges accessing pet care due to financial difficulties, transportation issues, or because they live in remote or underserved areas.

S.B. 448, a companion bill sponsored by Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary), is currently up for consideration in the State Senate. With the Florida Legislature scheduled to adjourn on March 11, this legislation must be approved by the Senate before it can be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis to be signed into law.

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