2019 Legislative Agenda

The NYSVMS mission is to lead New York State veterinarians through education, advancement and protection of animal wellness, public health, and the veterinary medical profession and we work to make sure that New Yorkers have access to the highest caliber veterinary care available in the most cost-effective way.

As part of working to achieve those goals, NYSVMS monitors state legislation and, as necessary, engages in advocacy with regard to specific issues of interest.

The upcoming session (January-June 2019), is the first year of the current legislative session, so all bills monitored by NYSVMS in 2018 will need to be reintroduced and will receive new bill numbers this year. 

Please see below for the NYSVMS 2019 Legislative Agenda:

Strengthening a Veterinarian’s Ability to Treat Patients in a Timely Manner

NYSVMS continues to advocate for legislation that would permit pharmacists to dispense drugs, including veterinary-specific compounded medications, to a veterinarian. The bill would also permit a veterinarian to keep such drugs in stock for administration and sale pursuant to a non-patient specific regimen.  Enactment of this legislation would bolster a veterinarian’s ability to treat animals in a timely fashion, as there is often a time lag between when a medication is compounded and when it can be delivered to the patient.

Position Statement: NYSVMS will continue to advocate for the passage of a compounding bill in the Senate and Assembly to ensure that compounded medications are available for “office use.”

Protecting a Veterinarian’s License to Practice Veterinary Medicine

Declawing of Cats (Onychectomy)

Declawing is a surgical procedure that veterinarians take very seriously.  Veterinarians strive to educate pet owners on alternatives to pet declawing when the procedure is requested and urge pet owners to become educated on the process itself and the alternatives before making a final decision to declaw their animal.  NYSVMS believes that medical decisions such as the decision to declaw a cat should be left to the sound discretion of fully trained, licensed, and state-supervised professionals operating within appropriate standards of practice.  NYSVMS opposes any legislation that would prohibit the procedure in New York State and erode the ability of a licensed veterinarian to practice his or her profession.  This position mirrors that of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  

Position Statement: NYSVMS strongly encourages client education prior to consideration of declawing and believes the decision to declaw or not declaw a pet should be made by the pet owner in consultation with his or her veterinarian. 

Bark Softening

Legislation to prohibit the procedure known as bark softening in dogs has been introduced in the legislature a number of times over the past several years.  Veterinarians report that they perform this procedure infrequently, with many veterinarians having no experience with it at all; however, they also report that where bark softening has been done it is the final means of preventing euthanasia for a dog that has resisted behavior modification.  NYSVMS strongly opposes routine bark softening or devocalization as a means of making a dog more appealing for sale but believes that because the practice does become necessary in certain situations it should not be banned completely.  NYSVMS has shared proposed amendments to the existing language with past bill sponsors that would not ban bark softening outright but would create stricter standards for performance of the procedure.  

Position Statement: NYSVMS urges the legislature to work carefully to balance the interests of animals with the urge to ban the procedure of bark softening.  Medical decisions should be left to the sound discretion of fully trained, licensed, and state-regulated professionals operating within the appropriate standards of practice.  NYSVMS further believes that the decision to perform a procedure such as bark softening should be made on a case-by-case basis and only in appropriate situations at the request of an animal’s owner.

Protecting Veterinarians from Liability

Animal Guardianship

Legislation traditionally introduced in the Assembly would establish a cause of action for the wrongful injury or death of a companion animal and provides for injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages.  While NYSVMS understands and supports the protection and quality care of animals, and believes that those intentionally harming an animal should be subject to punishment, the concern with this legislation is that it could unfairly penalize veterinarians for routine care, treatment, or invasive procedures with unintended negative results.  NYSVMS strongly opposes this legislation based on its potential detrimental impact on veterinarians and the increased costs that could result from lawsuits filed pursuant to this proposed cause of action.

Position Statement: NYSVMS opposes any legislation regarding animal guardianship

Reporting Abuse

NYSVMS traditionally opposes legislation that would change the current reporting requirements imposed upon veterinarians who reasonably and in good faith suspects abuse of an animal.  The current standard, which indicates that veterinarians may report suspected abuse and disclose treatment records, would be increased if this bill became law and veterinarians would be required to report the suspicion of abuse.  While veterinarians immediately report abuse if they suspect an animal under their care is being mistreated, implementation of this bill could subject veterinarians to increased liability if a sign of abuse is inadvertently missed or misinterpreted as something else. NYSVMS believes this issue should be looked at and addressed comprehensively, with adequate funding for training provided to those investigating abuse and clearly-established pathways for reporting incidents of abuse.  

Position Statement: NYSVMS opposes any legislation which mandates abuse reporting without clear guidance and direction on the reporting pathway and the steps necessary for agencies receiving the reports or allegations.

Buoy’s Law

NYSVMS also opposes legislation that would impose additional disclosure requirements on veterinarians regarding prescribing medications to patients, including a requirement to notify clients both verbally and in writing of all risks and side effects of medication prior to prescription, and to provide a copy of the manufacturer’s warning label or insert for medications that a veterinarian repackages.  NYSVMS believes that these proposed requirements are duplicative of current veterinary practice, as well as time-consuming and cost prohibitive for smaller practices.  Enactment of these requirements would also create an assumption of additional liability for veterinarians, which could deter practitioners from prescribing appropriate medications, and could delay treatment due to additional time spent developing a treatment plan.

Position Statement: NYSVMS opposes legislation mandating overly burdensome disclosure requirements that are duplicative of the standards and practices already followed in the veterinary profession.

Investing in the Profession of Veterinary Medicine

NYSVMS supports all efforts to reinstate necessary funding to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine so that the school’s important training programs are fully funded and operational.  NYSVMS also advocates for additional investments in loan forgiveness opportunities for veterinary school graduates.  The cost of higher education continues to increase, serving as a deterrent to those interested in pursuing the practice of veterinary medicine.  NYSVMS values young professionals and wants to ensure they continue to enter the profession without needing to weigh the cost and potential debt against their desire to work as a veterinarian. 

NYSVMS also supports the preservation of funding for various research initiatives for rural veterinarians, farm veterinarians, and large animal veterinarians.  Continued availability for research projects related to farming, dairy- and food-producing animals, and other large animals is imperative to ensure that the research and funding in New York State is inclusive of all animal species.

Position Statement: NYSVMS supports legislative efforts to increase funding for veterinary education, training, loan forgiveness, and animal research. 

Increasing Savings to the Cost of Practicing Veterinary Medicine

NYSVMS supports legislation that would establish an exemption from sales tax for drugs and medical equipment used in the practice of veterinary medicine.   The costs of running a small veterinary practice add up, and NYSVMS supports all efforts by the State of New York to reduce the tax burden on practicing veterinarians.

Position Statement: NYSVMS supports the reduction of the cost of practicing veterinary medicine in New York State through tax exemptions and other savings.