By Daniel Stefanski |
In the middle of a hectic week at the Arizona Legislature, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs signed a wildly popular bill to increase veterinary care for pets.
On Tuesday, Governor Hobbs signed SB 1053, sponsored by Senator T.J. Shope, which “allows a veterinarian to use an audio-video communication medium to establish a veterinarian-client patient relationship and prescribe drugs subject to certain terms and conditions.”
Last week, after the bill cleared the Legislature, Shope wrote, “By now, you’ve heard me talk a lot about SB 1053, a bill I’ve sponsored that would allow veterinarians to utilize telemedicine to care for our pets. After this bill passed out of the House by a nearly unanimous vote, 57-1, it passed out of the Senate on Final Read this week with supermajority support and has been transmitted to the Governor’s desk. I, along with the Arizona Humane Society and many other pet owners, hope Governor Hobbs will do what’s best for our animals and sign this bill into law.”
Senator Shope and Co. got their wish with Hobbs’ signature. The Goldwater Institute had also been a huge proponent of the bill and cheered on the new law. Goldwater’s Director of Government Affairs, Jenna Bentley, tweeted, “A great day for pets in Arizona as SB 1053 is signed into law! This bill expands access to veterinary telemedicine services. Something that cannot happen soon enough for many animal owners, especially in rural areas of our state.”
The Goldwater Institute also posted an article from Mark Cushing, who is the Founder & CEO of the Animal Policy Group. Cushing praised the bill and explained why this proposal was sorely needed in the Grand Canyon State, writing, “A chronic shortage of veterinarians has created veterinary deserts throughout the United States. Pet owners of all ages don’t hesitate to seek veterinary advice and care, but such care is often available only through digital tools. Veterinary trade associations resist these changes, ignoring the key principle that telemedicine requires an informed choice by the veterinarian and pet owner to proceed without an in-person examination of the pet.”
Cushing also used the passage of Shope’s bill to encourage other states to follow in Arizona’s footsteps: “During the COVID pandemic, 19 states allowed pet owners to utilize telemedicine to initiate veterinary care with no reports of harm to pets. The Canadian province of Ontario, where 15 million people live, has enjoyed veterinary telemedicine for five years and also reported no complaints of injuries to pets. The Arizona Legislature looked at the lessons from these jurisdictions, considered the experience of human medicine, and made the right choice. The door is now open for more states to follow Arizona’s lead.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.