AB 1237 Will Bring Relief to California’s Most Vulnerable Animals

The San Francisco SPCA is proud to announce our first proposed 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 proposed 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 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 or 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 reduction in resources 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.  

What you can to do help 

Right now is a great time to adopt, donate, or volunteer at the SF SPCA or your local animal shelter. You can also help out by sharing this story and any related posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

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