AB 1399 Authorizes Veterinary Telemedicine Practice in California

UPDATE:  We are thrilled to share that Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1399 into law, allowing for the use of veterinary telemedicine in a significant milestone for California’s animals. Telemedicine will reduce animal suffering, alleviate some barriers to obtaining veterinary care, improve pet retention, and extend the capacity of animal shelters to serve animals and their communities. AB 1399 was a truly collaborative effort and we thank Governor Newsom, Assemblymembers Laura Friedman and Josh Lowenthal, who sponsored this bill, and everyone who supported this legislation. Telemedicine will help alleviate suffering and save animal lives in California.

May 17, 2023

We are facing a crisis-level veterinary shortage in California. We recently conducted a survey that found more than 344,000 animals do not have adequate access to veterinary care staff. As a result, California shelters are becoming overcrowded, leading to increased cases of illnesses, and increasing stress on shelter staff and animal caregivers.

Because of our state’s outdated laws, pet owners are forced to wait for hard-to-get appointments so that veterinarians can perform in-person physical examinations of an animal, a lengthy process that is amplifying our access-to-care challenges.

We can help address these challenges by allowing for the use of telemedicine. AB 1399 will make veterinary care more accessible for all pet owners, especially for people in remote or underserved areas with few or no veterinarians and those who face financial, geographic and logistical obstacles getting pets to a clinic. 

Telemedicine practice is done safely, efficiently, and  affordably. California’s veterinarians are some of the best in the country, and the SF SPCA has full confidence in their abilities to provide incisive, compassionate and expert care using this tool. 

AB 1399 requires that the same high standard of care be applied for telemedicine as for in-person vet visits.  This legislation is a smart, common-sense solution that provides great benefit to our dogs and cats and the people  that care for them. Similar legislation was just enacted in Arizona and it will have a resoundingly positive impact there. 

 We have a chance to make a real difference in how we care for our pets in California. Please help us make sure we take advantage of this opportunity. 

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