With the State Legislative season now wrapped up, the SF SPCA is pleased to report on our successful advocacy campaigns aimed at improving access to care for California’s pets and their families. This year the SF SPCA expanded and deepened its advocacy engagement efforts and, working in close collaboration with other animal welfare groups, there are significant achievements to share with you.
We are delighted to announce that Senate Bill 669 (SB 669), which expands the ability of Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) to administer vital vaccines, was signed into law on October 13 by Governor Gavin Newsom, in one of his last approvals of the legislative session.
Sponsored by State Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), SB 669 will allow trained, educated and experienced RVTs to administer vaccines under the indirect (offsite) supervision of a licensed veterinarian. This legislation will allow RVTs to administer vaccine clinics, expanding access to vaccines at a time when outbreaks like distemper are occurring and providing crucial services to some of California’s most vulnerable pets.
Notably, we also advocated on behalf of Assembly Bill 1399 (AB 1399), which allows for veterinary telemedicine in California. Authored by Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) and Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), the legislation was signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 8.
Because of California’s outdated laws, pet owners currently are often forced to wait for hard-to-get appointments so that veterinarians can perform in-person physical examinations of an animal as a prerequisite to providing almost any medical advice. This issue is particularly acute for seniors, persons with disabilities, and those without access to transportation or who otherwise find it difficult to get to a veterinary hospital.
By addressing those obstacles to care, telemedicine will significantly reduce animal suffering, alleviate some barriers to veterinary care, improve pet retention, and extend the capacity of animal shelters to serve animals and their communities.
In addition to actively engaging on legislation expanding access to care, SF SPCA supported several animal welfare and sheltering bills. As an example, the SF SPCA backed Assembly Bill 781 (AB 781), sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego). AB 781 will require that when a city or county designates an emergency shelter, it must designate an emergency shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. This will apply to emergency cooling and heating centers, including notifications that must include whether those facilities can accommodate pets. That bill was signed into law on October 7.
There was one setback when Assembly Bill 1215 was vetoed by Governor Newsom. This bill, actively supported by the SF SPCA, would have created the Pets Assistance With Support Grant Program (PAWS), an initiative to award grants to qualified homeless shelters and qualified domestic violence shelters. These grants have been issued previously through lawmaker support, and the grants provided shelter, food, and veterinary services for pets owned by people experiencing homelessness or escaping domestic violence. The funding for these grants was temporary and it has run out. AB 1215 would have made the grant program a lasting permanent one.
Despite that, the Legislative Session was a considerable success with significant gains for animals, and the SF SPCA wants to thank all of its supporters and partners who helped support and advocate on behalf of these critical bills.
As the SF SPCA increases our advocacy efforts at the state level, we look forward to continuing pushing for new policy measures that will help support and protect our state’s most vulnerable pets and their people.
And we will make sure to keep everyone informed and updated about our organization’s goals and initiatives. Together, we can and do make a difference.