Senate Bill 1271: Arizona Bill Will Solve Vet Shortage

For those in need of medical attention for a pet, finding a veterinarian can be a challenge,

PHOENIX – For those in need of medical attention for a pet, finding a veterinarian can be a challenge. State lawmakers are working on a bill to help address Arizona’s veterinarian shortage.

Becoming a veterinarian is not an easy or cheap adventure. A vet 12 News spoke to said he estimates the average cost would be around $200,000 for some students over their seven to eight years of schooling.

“So most of these students are typically four years old before they enter vet school,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinarian and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society. “The program lasts about three years or four years with summers.”

Help may be on the way

But Senate Bill 1271 hopes to make it a little more financially possible to become a veterinarian here in Arizona and more attractive to stay here. The Arizona Veterinarian Assistance Program will reimburse much of the cost of training veterinarians.

If a new graduate works for four years in the state and at least two years in an area designated by the United States Department of Agriculture as having a shortage, a nonprofit animal shelter, or a municipal facility, they will receive up to $100,000 in return to pay off their school debt at the end of their four-year term.

Dr. Hansen says it’s a rewarding career with immediate openings.

“There are significant openings. We typically have 12 veterinarians on staff at the Arizona Humane Society, and we typically have two openings. We hope this will allow us to fill these positions and add additional staff,” Dr. Hansen said.

Not there yet

Before SB 1271 lands on Governor Doug Ducey’s desk, it must first pass the state House of Representatives. Dr. Hansen is optimistic about the future of the bill and the impact it will have.

“Arizona’s Veterans Loan Assistance Program is going to provide a much-needed boost to new grads,” Dr. Hansen said. “And that will allow those of us who employ vets to retain these new graduates. They will provide services to the Valley that are so important, especially in our shelters such as the Arizona Humane Society Trauma Hospital.

If passed, $5,000,000 will come from the state’s general fund to pay for the new program.

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Norman D. Briggs