Part of the San Francisco SPCA’s Vision 2030 is to ensure that all San Francisco pets and guardians have access to veterinary care by the year 2030. This is more important than ever because the pet population is forecasted to continue growing in the coming years — which is great news for animals and the people who love them. As the pet population grows, America is also facing a growing shortage of veterinary care providers. Current projections suggest that 75 million pets in the United States will be without care by 2030.
It is imperative that we seek ways to start expanding access to care now. One of the most efficient and effective ways to do so is by expanding veterinary telemedicine, so that pets can receive care tele-electronically. Veterinary telemedicine could allow more veterinarians to practice and open access to care for clients for whom transportation or in-person visits are extremely difficult or unaffordable.
Currently, California’s telemedicine laws are more restrictive than any other state in the country. That needs to change.
Earlier this week, on May 3, the SF SPCA filed a lawsuit against the California Veterinary Medical Board (a government agency responsible for licensing veterinarians) with the hopes of expanding access to telemedicine so that more animals can receive better care. We did this because we believe that the restriction on veterinary telemedicine is an illegal violation of both veterinarians’ and clients’ First Amendment rights.
We know that veterinary telemedicine works. Last year, you may remember that our Shelter Policy and Legal Services team worked to get the California Veterinary Medical Board to allow the use of telemedicine during the pandemic. Many other states loosened veterinary telemedicine restrictions as well. In Ontario, Canada veterinarians have been using telemedicine for three years successfully. In fact, telemedicine is readily used to treat people, including nonverbal people and babies.
Changing the current telemedicine regulations is one of the most impactful ways to address the growing access to care issue. Expanding veterinary telemedicine has the potential to positively impact the lives of countless animals and humans alike, and set precedent for other states across the country.
Thank you for your continued support as we work toward ensuring that all pets can receive the medical care that they deserve.
Dr. Jennifer Scarlett
The San Francisco SPCA is a non-profit animal welfare organization that exists due to the generosity of its donors. Please consider making a donation today to help us continue our life-saving work.