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ASPCA Commends U.S. Senate for Passing Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act

Senate passes S. 1171, which allows veterinarians to legally transport and dispense life-saving medicines to protect animals in the field
January 8, 2014

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commends the U.S. Senate for passing the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 1171), which will enable veterinarians to more easily perform life-saving services for animals in crisis.  Introduced by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Angus King (I-ME), the bill clarifies existing law to allow veterinarians to transport and dispense vital medicines while practicing in the field.

“Mobile veterinarians perform much of their work in irregular and unpredictable locations,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Mobile spay/neuter and vaccination clinics, disaster responses, and animal cruelty investigations necessitate travel to remote and underserved communities. We thank the Senate for ensuring that mobile veterinarians across the nation can continue to serve their patients wherever animals need care.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had interpreted the Controlled Substances Act to prohibit veterinarians from dispensing controlled drugs in locations other than where a veterinarian has registered with the DEA. Under this interpretation, the DEA restricts 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.

“The passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act is a step in the right direction for the licensed practitioners who help ensure public safety and care for animals in Kansas and across the country,” said Senator Moran. “By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, this legislation makes certain veterinarians are equipped with the tools they need, and is particularly important for practitioners who work in rural areas, conduct research or respond to emergency situations.”

“I am very pleased the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act passed the Senate,” Senator King said. “Working in a rural state like Maine often requires veterinarians to travel long distances in order to provide care to animals on farms, in homes, and at shelters. This bill will grant properly licensed veterinarians the right to carry and administer controlled substances, including important medications, allowing them to do their job.”

The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Similar legislation (H.R. 1528) has been introduced in that chamber by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), the only two veterinarians serving in the U.S. Congress.

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 S.1171 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