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ASPCA Commends Congress for Passing Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act

Bill allows veterinarians to legally transport and dispense life-saving medicines to protect animals in the field
July 8, 2014

WASHINGTON—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528), which will enable veterinarians to more easily perform life-saving services for animals in crisis.  Introduced by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Or.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) – the only two veterinarians serving in Congress – the bill clarifies the Controlled Substances Act to allow veterinarians to transport and dispense vital medicines while practicing in the field. The Senate passed an identical bill (S.1171) in January, sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Ks.) and Angus King (I-Me.).

“Mobile veterinarians perform much of their work in irregular and unpredictable locations,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Like many others in the animal-protection community, the ASPCA relies on mobile and ambulatory veterinarians to provide a broad range of life-saving services in the field. Mobile spay/neuter and vaccination clinics, disaster responses, and animal cruelty investigations necessitate travel to remote and underserved communities. We thank Congress for ensuring that mobile veterinarians across the nation can continue to serve their patients wherever animals need care.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had interpreted the Controlled Substances Act to prohibit veterinarians from dispensing controlled drugs in any location in which the veterinarian has not registered with the DEA. Under this interpretation, the DEA could restrict a veterinarian’s ability to provide the most effective treatments while practicing in the field. As a result, veterinarians with rural, mobile, or ambulatory practices risk agency sanctions by transporting common veterinary drugs in their practice vehicles or dispensing them at locations other than a registered fixed address. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act will clarify current law to ensure that veterinarians may legally transport, administer, and dispense controlled substances in the field unfettered by agency penalties. It also provides veterinarians more flexibility in field operations, regardless of their DEA registration locations.

"Today is a victory for veterinarians across this country, but more importantly, it’s a victory for the health and well-being of the animals they are entrusted to care for," said Representative Schrader. "Ridiculous bureaucratic interference from the DEA would have seriously impeded veterinarians' ability to properly treat their patients. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act will provide veterinarians with the certainty they need to continue to providing mobile or ambulatory services for their animal patients."

"As a large animal veterinarian, my operating room wasn't always in an office. Most times, it was in the field,” said Representative Yoho. “This bill will allow veterinarians to practice their profession without fear of unnecessary government intrusion. I am thankful for my colleague and good friend, Representative Schrader's hard work on this issue and look forward to this legislation being signed into law." 

The ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team frequently deploys its veterinary experts and works with a network of local veterinarians in the community to respond to natural disasters, including major events like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, in addition to being called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations. The passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act will enable veterinarians to more easily perform life-saving services for animals in crisis wherever they are dispatched.

For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org