SAN DIEGO — It’s like Teledoc, but for your pet. A free app called Anipanion connects vets to pets.
Even though a man from San Diego created the app, people in California can’t fully take advantage of it because of state regulations.
Current legal requirements for veterinarians means they must physically see an animal in front of them, before providing any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
But, the San Diego Humane Society and the ASPCA are sponsoring a bill to try and open up telemedicine for animal care.
At the Chuck and Pilar Bahde Center for Shelter Medicine at the San Diego Humane Society, the animals that find their way here, are the lucky ones.
Forty veterinarians, plus 60 support staff work at the shelter, ready to provide care for a broken leg, broken teeth, or any medical issue.
These little loves get the best care. But other shelters and animal rescues don’t have such direct, easy access to veterinarians. And if you need an appointment for your pet with a vet, it could take more than a week to get in.
These little loves get the best care. But other shelters and animal rescues don’t have such direct, easy access to vets. And if you need an appointment for your pet with a vet, it could take more than a week to get in.
The San Diego Humane Society says AB 1399 will give animals all over California the access they need to health care.
“This bill would actually modernize veterinary medicine. What this would do, it would bring us into the same world as human physicians. We can use video conferencing. We can use phone calls. We can actually help to get treatment to that animal and diagnosis," San Diego Human Society President and CEO Dr. Gary Weitzman said.
Tony Cairo created the Anipanion App. The app has 10,000 users, mostly outside California.
People with pets can get a telemedicine appointment with a veterinarian, usually within 30 minutes of requesting one.
“They can chat. They can share files, images, video recordings of any issues going on and get connected to a care team faster than if they just called and waited a week and a half to see a vet. Typically when a pet parent calls in, they are calling to say something is going on. Their pet may not be acting right, they may not be eating or drinking water. They can share more context over a telehealth consult because more often than not, they have a picture or they have a video recording and they can share in real time,” Cairo said.
A virtual vet visit is cheaper than an in-person visit.
On Anipanion, appointments are anywhere from $35 to $60. You can either text with a vet or video call. Once a vet sees your pet virtually, they can decide if they need to go in to an office.
“We are trying to educate pet parents and reassure them that everything’s going to be ok,” Cairo said.
But unless this bill passes, precious animals all over California will continue to wait for hard-to-get appointments to feel better.
Like all shelters right now, the San Diego Humane Society is full and has so many animals who need forever homes. You can find one perfect for you here.
You can follow the latest updates on the San Diego Humane Society website.
WATCH RELATED: A new push to address California's crisis-level veterinary shortage (Feb. 2023).
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