Floridians veterinarians can soon treat animals over web video
American tax dollars should never fund animal cruelty, says Brian Mast.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the PETS Act granting similar telehealth abilities to those already employed by human doctors.

Coughing canines can now see a veterinarian remotely.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the Providing Equity in Telehealth Services (PETS) Act (HB 849). The legislation seeks to grant similar ability to veterinarians to see patients through telehealth as those used by physicians dealing with a human clientele.

The legislation had been championed by Sen. Jenn Bradley in the Senate and Reps. Sam Killebrew and James Buchanan in the House.

“Huge win for Floridians with pets,” said Buchanan, a Venice Republican. “This legislation will increase access to care for our best friends, our pets, and drive down cost for Floridians. major sponsors were Republicans, but the bill was co-sponsored by numerous Democrats and ultimately passed through both chambers of the Legislature without drawing a single dissenting vote.”

All the major sponsors were Republicans, but the bill was co-sponsored by numerous Democrats and ultimately passed through both chambers of the Legislature without drawing a single dissenting vote.

Veterinarians in Florida are regulated under different state laws than medical doctors. Until now, the state made no mention of telehealth in any statutes governing the medical care of animals, even as it has expanded remote capacity for human doctors through the years, and particularly in the wake of the COVID pandemic that started in 2020.

Starting in July, Florida veterinarians will now be authorized to perform initial evaluations of animal patients using audio and visual communication. If that’s enough for veterinarians to feel comfortable recommending certain care without a physical evaluation, they can prescribe medications and treatment regiments remotely as well.

The legislation allows for veterinarians to provide prescriptions on flea and tick medication for a month’s worth of use. For any other drugs, telehealth prescriptions can only be used to cover 14 days’ worth of the controlled substances.

The only exception to that is for medication for horses, where telehealth prescriptions are strictly prohibited.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency notably has reported a significant increase in abuse of the horse tranquilizer xylazine, which is frequently mixed with fentanyl.

For any animals, the new law requires that any renewal of prescriptions must follow an in-person evaluation of the patient.

The bill also still prohibits veterinarians from issuing certificates of veterinary inspection remotely. Those documents are often required for the interstate transport of horses and other animals.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

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