ASPCA Commends Florida Legislature for Passing the PETS Act to Expand Access to Veterinary Telehealth

If signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the PETS Act will remove unnecessary regulations blocking Florida veterinarians and pet owners from using telehealth
March 6, 2024

TALLAHASSEE – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends Florida lawmakers for passing the Providing Equity in Telehealth Services (PETS) Act (H.B. 849), to expand access to safe, convenient veterinary telehealth. Sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Reps. Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) and James Buchanan (R-North Port), this bill received unanimous support. Modeled on Florida’s proven human telehealth provider statute, the PETS Act would empower 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. The bill next goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis for approval. 

The veterinary industry is experiencing a critical workforce shortage nationwide, and there simply aren’t enough veterinary professionals to care for all the animals in need. Telemedicine is a lifeline that can extend care to the many pets whose owners face serious financial, geographical, and logistical barriers to accessing veterinary care, including seniors, working families, and those who live in underserved or remote areas with few or no veterinarians. Unfortunately, outdated and unclear regulations in Florida prevent veterinarians from providing treatment to pets using telemedicine tools (like video calls), unless they have physically examined the animal in person.

“With many Floridians struggling to access veterinary care amidst a veterinary shortage, empowering veterinarians to use telehealth technology will provide another tool for veterinarians to reach more pet patients to help reduce animal suffering, keep more pets in their homes, and extend the capacity of animal shelters to serve their communities,” said Jennifer Hobgood, ASPCA senior director of state legislation for the Southern Division. “The ASPCA is grateful to Senator Bradley and Representatives Killebrew and Buchanan for championing the PETS Act to modernize Florida’s veterinary laws and increase legal veterinary telehealth options, and we urge Governor DeSantis to sign the bill into law to expand access to veterinary care in Florida to help the pets who need it most.”

“This legislation gives veterinarians the professional flexibility to offer telehealth services and opens 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 can be a lifeline for pets during weekends and evenings when most clinics are closed and provides more options for owners of 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.”

“The PETS Act updates Florida’s veterinary laws to codify pet telehealth, ensuring that unclear and outdated regulations will no longer hinder the use of this important technology that can do so much to help pet owners access veterinary care and alleviate animal suffering,” said Rep. Killebrew. “Florida law broadly enables telehealth providers to treat people, including babies, and it is time we removed unnecessary regulatory barriers that have blocked its use for animals. Our pets give us unconditional love, and I’m proud to sponsor a law to help give our pets better access to veterinary care through telehealth.”

A recent poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy revealed that 89 percent of registered Florida voters support expanding legal options for veterinarians and pet owners to use telemedicine, and 88 percent of respondents support legislation to give pet owners and veterinarians more flexibility to use telehealth video services to establish a relationship with a veterinarian. This overwhelming public support for legislation to expand access to veterinary telehealth was consistent across political party, race, gender and regardless of whether the respondent lived in a rural or urban setting.

The PETS Act has been endorsed by a broad coalition of state and national organizations, including the ASPCA, Florida Animal Advocacy and Protection Association, Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, Animal Policy Group, Veterinary Virtual Care Association, and the Coalition for the Veterinary Professional Associate. If signed into law, the PETS Act would help more Floridians access critical care for their pets and could help bridge current gaps in care exacerbated by the ongoing workforce shortage of veterinary professionals.

For more information about the ASPCA, or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit