The California Veterinary Medical Board (Board) will meet by teleconference at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, January 28, 2021 to discuss, amongst other agenda items, a “Presentation and Discussion on Access to Veterinary Care in California” presented by representatives from San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA) and Humane Society of the United States, Pets for Life (HSUS PFL).

The presentation, available online, includes the results of a study conducted by New Banfield Pet Hospital®, titled “75 Million Pets May Not Have Access to Veterinary Care by 2030, New Banfield Pet Hospital® Study Finds,” published on September 14, 2020.

In reality, as Matthew J. Salois, PhD, AVMA chief economist reported on October 26, 2019 during his keynote speech at the annual AVMA Economic Summit,

[n]early a third of the nation’s pets don’t see a veterinarian at least once a year.  That’s over $7 billion worth of veterinary care not being delivered to animals.

Some, but not all pet owners do not seek veterinary care for their pets because they do not believe they can afford such care; others reportedly do not see the value in such care.

For the former, the growing veterinary health insurance industry may provide assistance.  For the latter, the message must be clearer-routine annual examinations increase the health and longevity of pets.

The AVMA and other industry associations and businesses also promote increasing diversity of veterinarians providing such services, and have established

[t]he Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession [that] will work to drive change with the veterinary profession, expand the pipeline to include more people from diverse backgrounds, and encourage welcoming workplaces.  See JAVMA News, JAVMA, Vol. 258, No. 2, Jan 15, 2021.

Banfield Pet Hospital® and other industry leaders believe that increasing access to veterinary care must be addressed, at least in part, by addressing the shortage of veterinary professionals in the U.S., and that a correction should include the diversification of veterinarians in the profession.

The AVMA reports that veterinary college applicants has increased by 19%—a positive sign.

However, veterinary student educations debt also continues to rise, disproportionately impacting women and minority students, which must be addressed.

Anyone interested in attending the California Veterinary Board meeting where at least some of these issues will be discussed can do so by logging into the website and enter the following event number and password: Event number: 146 539 8288 Event password: VMB128.