ASPCA Welcomes New Federal Law Enabling Veterinarians to Better Protect Animals in the Field

President Obama signs Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act
August 1, 2014

WASHINGTONThe ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds President Barack Obama for signing the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, legislation passed by Congress to protect animals in crisis by enabling veterinarians to more easily perform life-saving services. Introduced by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Or.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) – the only two veterinarians serving in Congress – and Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Ks.) and Angus King (I-Me.), the new measure clarifies the Controlled Substances Act to allow veterinarians to transport and dispense vital medicines while practicing in the field.

“We thank both Congress and the Obama Administration for ensuring that animals can continue to receive life-saving care from mobile veterinarians,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Some of the ASPCA’s most critical anti-cruelty work consists of on-scene interventions in large-scale cases of animal abuse, animal fighting busts and disaster relief efforts. If we were not allowed to provide necessary veterinary care for the animal victims of these crises, we would not be able to fulfill our mission. It is rare for Congress to pass free-standing animal protection legislation, but this important bill was an exception. We are happy to see it signed into law.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had interpreted the Controlled Substances Act to prohibit veterinarians from dispensing controlled drugs in any location in which the veterinarian has not registered with the DEA. This interpretation could restrict a veterinarian’s ability to provide the most effective treatments while practicing in the field. As a result, veterinarians working in the field risk agency sanctions by transporting common veterinary drugs in their practice vehicles or dispensing them at locations other than a registered, fixed address. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act clarifies current law to ensure that veterinarians may legally transport, administer, and dispense controlled substances in the field without risk of prosecution. The new law provides veterinarians more flexibility in field operations, regardless of their DEA registration locations.

The ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team frequently deploys its veterinary experts and works with a network of local veterinarians in the community to respond to natural disasters, including major events like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, in addition to being called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations. Much of this work is done in irregular and unpredictable locations. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act enables the ASPCA’s veterinarians to more easily perform life-saving services for animals in crisis wherever they are dispatched.

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