UPDATE: AB 1237 was held in committee on May 18th and will not move forward this year. This is disappointing news, but please stay tuned as we continue to generate solutions to the access-to-veterinary-care crisis.

The San Francisco SPCA is proud to announce our legislation tackling our state’s current access-to-veterinary-care crisis.

As many of you know, a growing shortage of veterinarians is impacting hundreds of thousands of California’s shelter and companion animals. We’re seeing delays in medical treatment, overcrowding in the shelters, and more outbreaks of disease. Sometimes, shelters are left with no other option than to euthanize treatable, adoptable pets, while some pet guardians are forced to surrender their animals because they cannot get the care they need.

That’s why we’re so grateful to Assembly Member Cottie Petrie-Norris for introducing AB 1237, a bill we crafted and cosponsored with our friends at the San Diego Humane Society. This legislation is a big step toward helping California’s most vulnerable cats and dogs receive the care they need and deserve.

AB 1237 will bring veterinary care to struggling shelters

AB 1237 proposes a total of up to $150,000 in educational debt relief to licensed California veterinarians who agree to work for California animal shelters or in underserved communities for at least five years.

Currently, new veterinarians are burdened with the second highest monthly debt-to-income ratio among graduate degree holders. Should AB 1237 pass, the much-needed debt relief will incentivize careers in sheltering and the community service space.

Veterinary shortages hurt animals, shelters, and people

According to a survey of California animal shelters, which we led recently with several partners, nearly 350,000 California shelter animals do not have adequate access to veterinary care staff. Meanwhile, among shelters with budgeted positions for veterinarians and veterinarian nurses, more than 50% of those positions remain vacant due to a lack of candidates.

The lack of veterinary professionals negatively impacts animals, limits community safety net services, strains shelter budgets, and takes a toll on staff mental health and morale. Unless we take immediate steps to mitigate the suffering, these issues will only worsen.

Standing for the welfare of all companion animals

Since our founding 155 years ago, the SF SPCA has advocated tirelessly for the wellbeing of animals. Today, we’re sharpening our focus to ensure all animals have access to quality medical care, compassionate shelter, and a loving home.

AB 1237 is the first of what I hope will be a series of solutions that deliver on this heartfelt promise.

Your Help is needed – One Quick Call or Email from You Can Help to Improve Care for California Animals!

AB 1237 passed committee in the California capital and is moving forward in the legislative process.  This represents a significant step forward to reduce animal suffering and help provide access to care in California.  Your support is still needed to get this important bill passed in our state.

Please show your support by emailing or calling your state Assembly Member to express your support. Visit: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov to find out who represents your Assembly district.

Sample Script:

Hello, my name is _______________________, and I live at (street address, city): _____________. I’m calling because I’m very concerned about improving the care for animals in California. I live in the Assembly Member’s district and I want to know that I can count on the Assembly Member to support two important pieces of legislation, AB 1399 and AB 1237, because (give brief explanation of why you support the bills).  Thank you for your time!

Animal Advocacy Day

Join animal advocates from across the state for a day of action at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. We warmly invite you to join us on Tuesday, May 23 to advocate for animals and their people and meet with legislators. This will be an energizing and impactful experience for everyone. If you are interested in joining us, please RSVP BY Tuesday, May 2.


Co–sponsored by San Francisco SPCA, ASPCA, California Animal Welfare Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and Marin Humane.