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SB1271 Veterinary Loan Assistance Bill Passes Through the Senate

Written by: Arizona Humane Society
Thanks to you, SB1271 passed the Arizona Senate today marking a major milestone for Arizona’s pets.

SB1271, a bill led by the Arizona Humane Society and Humane Society of Southern Arizona, and sponsored by Senator Shope, aims to help mitigate the veterinarian shortage in Arizona.

SB1271 establishes an Arizona Veterinary Loan Assistance Program, offering significant incentives – including a student loan reimbursement of up to $100,000 for veterinarians who work in Arizona for at least four years – to those who obtain a veterinary degree after Jan. 1, 2023. As part of their agreement, vets must work at least two years at a municipal, county, or nonprofit shelter like ours, or in an agricultural practice designated by the USDA as having a shortage.

Healthcare for animals has been in a crisis for several years due to a severe shortage of veterinarians. This negatively affects pet owners, ranchers, private veterinary practices, and animal shelters and rescues across the state while also causing inflating costs for veterinary services and further burdening an industry that is already seeing high rates of burnout and turnover.

“Pet owners in both routine and emergency situations are experiencing extremely long wait times which could leave pets unnecessarily suffering” said Dr. Steven Hansen, President and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society. “This bill is critical to leveraging investments that have already been made in our own backyard with our two veterinary schools and can further help alleviate the strain that the veterinary shortage is causing so that both veterinarians and pet owners are supported and pets can get the care they need and deserve.”

Prior to the passing of SB1271 and an incentive program to assist graduates with their significant debt-to-income ratio – one that supersedes dentists, physicians and other medical professions – those newly minted veterinarians may have been forced to move out of state. Now, Arizona is on the road to creating a sustainable pathway to solve our veterinary healthcare crisis for a variety of invested stakeholders right here in Arizona.

Now, as SB1271 heads to the Arizona House of Representatives, we will continue to lead efforts to push this bill across the finish line and will keep you informed of its progress.

Thank you for taking action for Arizona’s pets!


As Arizona faces vet shortage, Legislature considers loan forgiveness for vet students

Arizona veterinary students could see up to $100,000 in student loan forgiveness amid a statewide shortage of veterinarians, a problem particularly affecting rural and ranching communities, humane societies and other nonprofit animal shelters.

Senate Bill 1271, sponsored by Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, would establish the Arizona Veterinary Loan Assistance Program. If the bill becomes law, it would offer tuition incentives for veterinarians who work in Arizona for at least four years, with two of those years at a rural practice or nonprofit animal shelter.
The bill passed the House Land Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee unanimously March 14 after previously passing the Senate.

There are more than 1 million animals raised for food in Arizona, according to the 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture Census, but the state has fewer than three dozen veterinarians specializing in food animal medicine. The American Veterinary Medical Association membership numbers show just under 6% of all veterinarians nationwide treat food animals.

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February 16, 2022