New Poll Reveals Florida Voters Overwhelmingly Support Proposed State Legislation to Expand Access to Veterinary TelehealthASPCA urges Florida Legislature to pass the PETS Act to increase access to safe, convenient veterinary telehealth during the 2024 legislative session
TALLAHASSEE, FL– The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the results of a new poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy that reveals 89 percent of registered Florida voters support expanding legal options for veterinarians and pet owners to use telemedicine. Additionally, 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. The 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.
These poll results suggest strong public approval for legislation currently moving through the Florida Legislature – the Providing Equity in Telehealth Services (PETS) Act (S.B.1040/H.B.849), sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven). The PETS Act is modeled on Florida’s proven human telehealth provider statute and would empower Florida-licensed veterinarians to use telehealth technology as an additional tool to establish a relationship with clients and treat animal patients. H.B. 849 received unanimous support in the House Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee, as well as the House Commerce Committee, and next advances to the full House of Representatives for approval.
“Veterinary telehealth can help pet owners who struggle to get their pets into a clinic, such as senior citizens, those with transportation difficulties, and those who live in rural areas,” said Jennifer Hobgood, ASPCA senior legislative director for the Southern division. “This poll shows overwhelming bipartisan support for state legislation to give pet owners and veterinarians more flexibility in how we deliver and access veterinary care in the Sunshine State. We commend Senator Bradley and Representative Killebrew for their leadership and urge the Florida Legislature to pass the PETS Act without delay, so that more pets can get the care they need, when they need it.”
“Human healthcare has long relied on telehealth to connect more patients with medical professionals, especially in rural areas. Unfortunately, outdated regulations in Florida prevent veterinarians from effectively using telehealth technology for pets,” said Sen. Bradley. “On the weekends and after hours when most veterinary clinics are closed, the only option for pet owners is an expensive and often unnecessary trip to an emergency animal hospital. The PETS Act will remove unnecessary regulatory barriers so that licensed veterinarians, pets, and their families have more options for accessing vital veterinary care."
“This poll clearly demonstrates that Florida voters across the board wholeheartedly support legislation to provide better access to safe, convenient veterinary telehealth,” said Rep. Killebrew. “Florida has been a leader in expanding access to telehealth for people, and we should do the same for our furry family members. I’m proud to join with Senator Bradley in sponsoring the PETS Act to codify pet telehealth in Florida law and ensure pets and their families can benefit from this promising technology.”
Telehealth is a lifeline for 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. The veterinary industry is facing a critical workforce shortage nationwide, and there simply aren’t enough veterinary professionals to care for all the animals in need. In Florida, pet owners are struggling to access veterinary care for pets, and according to the Access to Veterinary Care Project, the Sunshine State has a Veterinary Care Accessibility Score of 43 out of 100 – a failing grade that places Florida near the bottom one-third of states across the country. Additionally, a 2020 study estimated that 75 million pets in the U.S. could be without veterinary care by 2030. Diverting non-urgent or routine cases to telehealth can help bridge gaps in care exacerbated by workforce shortages to connect more animals with care, helping to keep them in loving homes and out of overburdened shelters.
With Florida’s 2024 legislative session now underway, the ASPCA is urging state lawmakers to pass the PETS Act to empower licensed veterinarians in Florida to determine when to use telehealth in the practice of veterinary medicine, which can help reduce animal suffering, alleviate financial and logistical barriers to veterinary care, improve pet retention, and extend the capacity of animal shelters to serve animals and their communities.
Additionally, the ASPCA is calling on state lawmakers to advance the Veterinary Workforce Innovation Act (S.B. 1038 / H.B. 1245) to create a Veterinary Professional Associate position, enabling people with a master’s degree in veterinary care to perform routine check-ups, diagnosis, procedures, and treatments while under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. This legislation also received strong support (90 percent) among Florida voters. These bills must pass before the Florida Legislature adjourns on March 8 and be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in order to become law.
For more information about the ASPCA’s poll, please contact Molly Petrusich at [email protected] or 646-891-9527. To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to remove barriers to veterinary care or join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.