'Fairness to Pet Owners Act' resurfaces, spurs calls for veterinary opposition

Previously defeated H.R. 1406, the "Fairness to Pet Owners Act," has been reincarnated in 2014 in the form of H.R. 4023.

The new proposed act is drawing opposition from prominent members of the veterinary community who believe the legislation is unnecessary and burdensome for veterinarians.

H.R. 4023 is designed to "promote competition and help consumers save money by giving them the freedom to choose where they buy prescription pet medications, and for other purposes," according to act's text. However, organizations including the AVMA and NAVC are urging veterinary professionals to oppose the proposed legislation due to its requirement that veterinarians write prescriptions for domesticated household animals, whether or not requested by the client.

The proposed measure also specifies that veterinarians cannot charge for prescriptions or ask clients to sign a liability waiver regarding the written prescription.

According to the AVMA, the organization supports clients' rights to choose where their prescriptions are filled, but believes that veterinarians face undue burden by having to write a prescription whether or not the veterinarian will be filling the prescription.

The AVMA also pointed out that the act was placed in front of congress prior to the dissemination of findings and recommendations from an FTC public workshop held in October 2012 that explored competition and consumer protection issues in the pet medications sector.

"It seems premature to consider a 'solution,' such as this sweeping federal mandate, prior to publication of the report and clear identification of whether a problem actually exists," the AVMA wrote in its call to oppose the act.

Learn more and get involved

To read the full text of H.R. 4023, visit congress.gov. To share your opinions about the act with your local lawmakers, the NAVC recommends that veterinary professionals visit opencongress.org.