House OK’s veterinary telemedicine bill

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The ASPCA applauded the passage.

The House on Friday OK’d a bill that would expand access in Florida to veterinary telemedicine.

The House cleared the measure (HB 911) 98-9 without debate. Republican Rep. James Buchanan is the bill sponsor.

The bill would allow veterinarians to practice telemedicine under limited circumstances, such as to treat emergency situations and to prescribe drugs for nutrition, training, dermatological conditions, and anxiety.

Notably, a veterinarian is prohibited from prescribing controlled substances if the relationship is limited to telemedicine.

The bill would also allow an animal control officer to administer rabies shots under the “indirect supervision” of a veterinarian.

Current law limits veterinary telemedicine to diagnose and treat pets they’ve physically examined within the past 12 months.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) describes the current law as a “difficult, often unnecessary obstacle.” They note limitations presented last year by COVID-19.

Unlike hospitals, they further assert, veterinary clinics are closed overnight, preventing treatment for even minor injuries or illness.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need to update state law and increase access to virtual veterinary care,” said Jennifer Hobgood, ASPCA Senior Director of State Legislation for the Southern Division. “By removing barriers to veterinary telemedicine, HB 911 is the 9-1-1 that Florida pet owners need to ensure their beloved pets have access to essential veterinary services.”

The Senate companion bill (SB 1370), meanwhile, awaits a floor vote. Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez is the companion sponsor.

“The ASPCA is grateful to Rep. Buchanan and Sen. Rodriguez for championing this legislation, and we urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead by passing this bill to ensure it becomes law,” the ASPCA added.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.

The 2021 Legislative Session ends April 30.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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