SAN FRANCISCO, May 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a non-profit animal welfare organization, filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the California Veterinary Medical Board, challenging the limitations on veterinarians' ability and right to use telemedicine to speak about animal patients' health with pet owners. At present, the law forbids veterinarians from speaking to owners about an animal's health over the phone or internet ? unless they have first met in person.
The lawsuit claims that, by restricting veterinarians from offering advice to clients over the phone or through a virtual setting, this law violates a veterinarian's and pet owner's right under the First Amendment to free speech and negatively impacts animal welfare across the state.
"With a growing pet population, it is the San Francisco SPCA's top priority to ensure access to veterinary care for all animals in California, said Brandy Kuentzel, General Counsel at the San Francisco SPCA. "By limiting telemedicine, this law is restricting equitable access to animal care among California's diverse people and geographic regions."
Many states, including California, loosened veterinary telemedicine restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterinarians in Ontario, Canada have used the kind of telemedicine the lawsuit seeks for nearly three years successfully.
"The California Veterinary Medical Board is suggesting they don't trust veterinarians that they licensed to make sound decisions for animals," said Kuentzel. "The law not only restricts veterinarians and pet owners' constitutional right to free speech, it also restricts a pet's access to veterinary care."
The lawsuit requests that veterinarians be allowed to engage in telemedicine based on their judgment and training.
"People can use telemedicine for themselves and their children, so why not for their pets?" asked Kuentzel. "Telemedicine can be a vital tool to improve the lives of pets and the people who love them."
About the San Francisco SPCA
The San Francisco SPCA is an independent, community-supported, non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving, protecting and providing immediate care for cats and dogs who are homeless, ill or in need of an advocate. The San Francisco SPCA also works long-term to educate the community and improve the quality of life for animals and their human companions. The organization does not receive government funding and is not affiliated with any national organization.
The San Francisco SPCA offers volunteer opportunities to care for shelter dogs and cats, assist veterinary and shelter staff, enrich the lives of people in the community by fostering unowned animals, and offering animal-assisted therapy.
For more information about the San Francisco SPCA, please call (415) 554-3000 or visit sfspca.org.
SOURCE San Francisco SPCA
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