The Pact Act Raises Major Concerns

The PACT Act Raises Major Concerns

Subject Matter Experts Will Not Decide What is Customary Animal Husbandry

As the PACT Act reads now, veterinary medicine and livestock are exempt. However, since rule-making to determine what is “customary” is falling on the judiciary instead of actual subject-matter experts: farmers, ranchers, animal owners and veterinarians, there is a legitimate concern that animal owners, no matter what category they fall into are going to be subject to federal criminal charges for simply following animal husbandry practices.

Critical Shortage of Rural, Large Animal Veterinarians

In addition to the rule-making concern, there is concern regarding what falls under the purview of veterinary care. States have different regulations in regard to procedures and treatments that can be administered by non-veterinarians and what is considered “under veterinary direction or under the direction of a veterinarian”. Add to this the fact that there are simply not enough large animal veterinarians in the country to meet the need.
According to the USDA, there are about 500 counties in the U.S. underserved by a veterinarian in 2019. The vast majority are in rural areas. There are shortages this year in 44 states, the highest number reporting shortages since tracking began.
The shortage in large animal veterinarians has to do with many factors, including student debt and low pay for rural veterinarians. According to the AVMA, 2018 graduates from U.S, veterinary colleges averaged $143,000 of debt. This severe shortage has been recognized by the USDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as well as various state veterinary associations and pharmaceutical companies. There are now veterinary loan repayment programs offered by states and pharma companies. The Federal Government has stepped in as well via the Federal Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLP) which has been launched to help fill positions in areas where there are shortages of large animal veterinarians.

Will Animal Owners Be Committing Federal Crimes When Providing Basic Treatment or Lifesaving Care?

What cannot be ignored is how this shortage in veterinarians impacts animal owners and their access to veterinary care for their animals. It leaves many animal owners in rural areas in the position where they must provide their own care to animals on emergency basis, or until the time when a veterinarian is available. Under the PACT Act, animal owners could be committing federal crimes when they are simply working to follow basic animal husbandry practices or providing other sorts of life-saving care.

To learn more about the PACT Act CLICK HERE

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