New Survey from Dumb Friends League and the ASPCA Reveals Strong Support Among Colorado Voters for Ballot Measures to Improve Access to Veterinary CareProposed 2024 statewide ballot measures would expand access to veterinary telehealth and establish the Veterinary Professional Associate position
DENVER, CO – Today, the Dumb Friends League and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) announced the results of a new poll conducted by Keating Research, Inc. that revealed strong support among Colorado voters for two proposed 2024 statewide ballot measures that will increase access to veterinary care for pets in Colorado. According to the poll, 72 percent of likely November 2024 voters support expanding access to veterinary telehealth, with 86 percent of respondents saying they support providing pet owners with the choice to use telehealth to begin a relationship with a veterinarian. Additionally, 65 percent of Colorado voters support establishing the veterinary professional associate (VPA) position.
The ballot measures include Initiative 144, which would expand telemedicine in Colorado – including for initial visits and for those who can’t access veterinary care in the current system – to allow Colorado-licensed veterinarians to use their discretion in providing animal health care services through audio-visual communication systems to facilitate assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of animals. Initiative 145 will allow for the creation of a new VPA position. Similar to a physician assistant in human medicine, the VPA position would allow people with a master’s degree in veterinary care to carry out tasks such as conducting routine check-ups, diagnosing minor conditions, performing procedures, and treating patients. Both measures will help expand the veterinary workforce and make care more accessible to people and pets across the state.
"We believe that every pet owner should have access to veterinary care for their animals," said Apryl Steele, President and CEO of the Dumb Friends League. "Colorado residents are struggling to access the care they need for their pets and we stand firm in our dedication to provide more resources for pet owners across the state. The poll results have shown overwhelming support for these measures and we ask that voters continue this momentum so we see Initiatives 144 and 145 on the ballot in November 2024."
“Like much of the country, Colorado is facing a severe shortage of veterinary professionals, and pet owners across the state are struggling to access care for their pets. This crisis requires every tool in the veterinary care toolkit and the expansion of telemedicine, along with the creation of a veterinary professional associate will ensure more pets can access the care they need,” said Brittany Benesi, ASPCA’s senior legislative director for the Western division. “Human healthcare has long relied on telehealth and midlevel providers like physician assistants to safely and conveniently connect more patients with medical professionals. These poll results demonstrate that Colorado voters want solutions now, and we urge them to make their voices heard to ensure Initiatives 144 and 145 are on the November ballot to provide greater access to veterinary care.”
Despite overwhelming support for these measures, state lawmakers are advancing a bill (H.B.24-1048) that would make it harder for pet owners to obtain veterinary care for their pets by restricting the tools veterinarians could use to provide treatment. Pets and the people who love them deserve access to safe, convenient veterinary telemedicine, which offers a lifeline to pet owners who face financial, geographic, or logistical obstacles to accessing veterinary care and could mean the difference between affordable access to care or no care at all.
A review and comment hearing on Initiatives 144 and 145 is scheduled for Jan. 25, with a Title Board hearing expected to take place on Feb. 7. If approved by the Title Board, advocates aim to gather more than 200,000 signatures in six months – well above the number required to qualify for the November 2024 ballot.
About the Dumb Friends League
The Dumb Friends League cares for more than 44,000 homeless pets and horses each year and is a national model in animal welfare. Working toward its mission to end pet homelessness and animal suffering, the League is a strong and steadfast voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Learn more about the programs and services the Dumb Friends League offers to its community at ddfl.org.