Best Friends Animal Society Congratulates Arkansas State Legislature on Passage of Groundbreaking Access to Veterinary Care Bill
Best Friends Animal Society, the leading national animal organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters by 2025, applauds the Arkansas State Legislature and bill sponsors Rep. DeAnn Vaught and Sen. Ricky Hill for the successful passage of HB 1182. This groundbreaking and lifesaving legislation will expand access to veterinary care for Arkansans by empowering veterinary technicians to perform additional procedures, like administering rabies vaccines.
This legislation will have a lifesaving impact in Arkansas, because it expands the services veterinary technician specialists can provide, enabling veterinarians to better serve clients and animals. A 2022 study by veterinarians.org found that Arkansas has the lowest number of employed veterinarians in the nation, with only 14 veterinarians per 100,000 people. Arkansas currently has no vet school, although there are plans to open one by 2025.
Among other benefits, the bill will allow veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, and veterinary technician specialists to administer rabies vaccines. This is a commonsense measure that would save precious and valuable time for veterinarians.
Animals are often stuck in shelters because of a lack of access to veterinary care, causing overcrowding and oftentimes euthanasia for space just because there aren't enough veterinary services in Arkansas. Access to affordable spay/neuter services is also a hardship for people and commonsense measures like this legislation will allow more veterinarians to perform at this level of their expertise, education and training.
Furthermore, programs like Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) to control outdoor cat populations are often hindered because there is inadequate access to the veterinary care necessary to support these programs. Studies show that targeted TNVR is the only proven method of population control for unowned cats and TNVR programs are essential in getting Arkansas to no-kill.
This legislation is innovative not just for Arkansas but for the rest of country as it may serve as a model for similar laws, since few states currently allow the simple, safe, rabies vaccination to be administered by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian.
An increasing problem across the country, highlighted by the pandemic, is the shortage of veterinarians. In addition to the struggle of finding affordable veterinary care, in many areas of the country, including Arkansas, there is no veterinary care to be found. A recent study by Dr. Jim Floyd, and economist and former dean of University of Florida veterinary college, found the shortage of veterinarians to be more than 3,000, nationwide. Enacting legislation like HB 1182 can help alleviate this situation in the present until longer-term solutions can be achieved.