American Mobile Veterinarians Need More Freedom to Practice Fully

The stringent regulatory regulations contained in the Controlled Substances Act ties the hands of veterinarians in the United States today from legally administering medications that alleviate the pain and suffering of animals who are terminally ill, those with serious injuries or those suffering from painful chronic illness. As the laws stand now, veterinary practitioners are prohibited from transporting controlled substances in their vehicles; even if these drugs are stored in a locked box.

Veterinarian with cat
Photo by Jo Singer- Erin Holder, DVM Treats Sir Hubble Pinkerton at home
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It is still against the law for veterinary practitioners to transport controlled substances in their vehicles – even if these drugs are stored in a locked box. And while many mobile veterinarians believe that since it’s necessary to carry certain pain-controlling drugs in the course of their work; as long they are carried in a locked box law, enforcement personnel consider its transport acceptable. Additionally since the Controlled Substance Act is not greatly enforced, mobile practitioners often carry these drugs to visit patients under their care. Unfortunately the reality is that in the United States this is still strictly illegal.

Veterinarians making house, barn or farm calls are only allowed to transport the specific amount of the necessary controlled substance, based on the weight of the patient being treated. If a subsequent appointment for another client is scheduled requiring the administration of a controlled substance, it prevents animals from being treated quickly since the practitioner must return to the home location to pick up the weight-specific dose in order to be in compliance with the law.

Presently by law, practitioners must register every location in which they store, distribute or dispense controlled substances. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency, (DEA) basically has historically overlooked the Controlled Substances Act for mobile veterinarians.

However, the DEA has been leaning in the direction of enforcement mainly in the state of California. Even though Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the DEA admitted that in the case of veterinarians the law seems controversial; he cautioned,

“It’s our charge and our mandate to enforce the Controlled Substance Act. Those in violation could receive scrutiny”.

How can animals be given the highest quality treatment if their hands are so incredibly tied?

This said, at long-last there is a ray of sunshine on the horizon for veterinarians who make house calls. According to a news item posted on the Humane Society’s Animals and Politics Legislative Fund’s site, on Wednesday, January 7, the United States Senate approved the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act – (S.1171) unanimously. This crucial legislation will finally give veterinarians the freedom to treat their patients effectively, allowing them to administer sedation and/or pain-killing medication, anesthesia or euthanasia to patients in the field, outside of their regular clinic location.

Introduced by the only two veterinarians serving in Congress; House Bill H.R.1528 has strong bipartisan support of 146 co-sponsors.

To help ensure that these bills pass which will give veterinarians the opportunity to render appropriate and timely care to their patients, the American Veterinary Medical Association is asking veterinarians to contact their representatives to ask them to cosponsor and vote for the companion bill in the House—H.R. 1528, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act.

Animal guardians in the United States can also take action to get this law passed once and for all to untie our veterinarians’ hands so they are able to legally treat our pets appropriately. Please contact our veterinarian to remind them to take this crucial step right away.

What are your thoughts on the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act? Share your opinions in a comment.


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23 thoughts on “American Mobile Veterinarians Need More Freedom to Practice Fully”

  1. Amy,

    I interviewed several vets when the issue first was made public a couple of years ago- spreading the word about the law. I was totally amazed that many of the practitioners -both vets practicing only in clinics and those with mobile practiceswith whom I spoke didn’t even know that this law is on the books. All the mobile vets told me they carry controlled substances anyway- in a locked box which they take out of the car every time they arrive at a destination.


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