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2023 California Veterinarian Legislative Update

Published on June 14, 2023
This year, the CVMA is working to represent the veterinary profession on a number of critical bills that impact how veterinary medicine is practiced and the level of care that animals receive in California. The CVMA legislative team is participating in meetings frequently in order to ensure that the voice of the profession is heard among stakeholders and lawmakers.

Most bills have made or are currently making their way through their first policy committee. The CVMA’s top priority bills and their current status include:

AB 814 (Lowenthal) Veterinary medicine: animal physical rehabilitation.

CVMA Position: Oppose

This measure will permit physical therapists to open their own practices to provide animal physical rehabilitation services to all species of animals by veterinary referral. The bill is an attempt to override current state law by proposing that direct veterinarian supervision be removed in practices run by physical therapists and avoiding minimum standards required of veterinary practices by inclusion of a licensee manager and other consumer protection provisions.

The CVMA’s strong opposition on this bill is rooted in several areas. Among them include:

  • Physical therapists have no training on animals as part of their formal and standardized licensing curriculum. If such a precedent were to be set by allowing them to practice veterinary medicine on animals, would veterinarians then be justified to practice on humans?
  • Physical therapists want to open practices that provide services to all animals, despite their certification courses being focused on dogs, self-guided, and relatively short.
  • Physical therapists are not formally trained in:     
  1. The fundamental differences between quadruped animals and biped, upright humans;
  2. The signs of pain in animal species;
  3. Animal behavior as it relates to all species;
  4. Animal locomotion;
  5. Recognizing infectious diseases;
  6. First aid treatment;
  7. Emergency life-saving treatment;
  8. And much more.

Status: This bill passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee and will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 1399 (Friedman/Lowenthal): Veterinary medicine: veterinarian-clientpatient relationship: telehealth. 

CVMA Position: Oppose

This bill will change California’s current veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) law to permit a VCPR to be established solely via electronic means. It will circumvent the current requirement for a veterinarian to physically examine an animal patient or make medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animals are kept in order to prescribe medication and treat patients. Both the CVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Association believe that there is a place for telemedicine within veterinary practice, but oppose the sole use of telemedicine to initiate a VCPR in the first instance.

Status: This bill passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee and will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 1232 (Connolly) Department of Food and Agriculture: resilient and higher welfare grant program. 

CVMA Position: No Position—Write Letter of Concern

This bill tasks the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) with creating and implementing a grant program to support the implementation of higher standards of care and more climate-smart farming practices. As currently written, the bill creates new defined terms relating to the higher welfare grant program. Among those terms are “animal welfare certification” and “higher welfare”—both of which specify when and how antibiotics may be administered to animals. The CVMA reached out to the Author of this bill with a letter of concern requesting that language pertaining to antibiotic use be amended to align with current California law. The CVMA is pleased to report that the Author made a commitment to accept the requested amendments.

Status: This bill passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee and will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 669 (Cortese) Veterinarians: veterinarian-client-patient relationship. 

CVMA Position: Support with Proposed Amendments

This bill will permit veterinarians to utilize registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) as agents in establishing the veterinarian-clientpatient relationship (VCPR) for the specific purposes of administering prophylactic vaccinations and/or providing preventative procedures for parasite control.

The CVMA and the Veterinary Medical Board have extensively reviewed and discussed RVT licensing curriculum and recognize the expanded ability of RVTs to provide these services to assist veterinarians in establishing their VCPRs with clients to provide vaccinations and parasite control. This measure will help to improve access to veterinary care by giving veterinarians authority to more extensively utilize RVTs in practice.

Status: This bill passed the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee and will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

More information about these bills, along with CVMA position letters and fact sheets, are available on in the Advocacy section under “2023 Legislative Update.”

CVMA Legislative Action Center 

For specific information on bills or to track CVMA-monitored bills through the legislative process, visit the CVMA’s online Legislative Action Center in the Advocacy section of


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