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Rep. McCormick: Ballot initiatives 144 and 145 will not help animals

Jun 17, 2024

This story was originally published in the Longmont Times-Call here. Forty years ago, I swore a lifelong oath when starting my career as a veterinarian. Part of that oath affirms that I will use my scientific knowledge and skill to benefit society through the protection of animal health and welfare. I also promised to prevent and relieve animal suffering and promote our collective public health. And, I swore to do these things keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I promised to forever do what is right for animals, their people and the public.

It is with that oath and my lifetime of service to animals and people that I must now sound the alarm to all Coloradans. There are two ballot initiatives being circulated collecting signatures for the fall ballot. These initiatives are being driven by big corporate interests from outside of Colorado. They are Initiative 144 and 145 and are being misleadingly sold to voters as a way to “increase access to veterinary care.”

The General Assembly worked very hard this spring in a bipartisan, collaborative way to develop a robust approach to how best to utilize teletechnologies in the delivery and expansion of veterinary care. That bill was signed into law by the governor earlier this year. HB24-1048 Providing Veterinary Services through Telehealth passed the House of Representatives unanimously. It is widely supported by veterinarians, veterinary technicians, farmers and ranchers, shelters and humane societies and animal caretakers. The bill strengthens and clarifies that veterinary telemedicine should supplement and not replace in-person care. We absolutely should use telehealth more, and this law will make sure it is done right to protect pets.

Initiative 144 also has to do with Veterinary Telehealth but is a danger to pets. 144 would dismantle that well structured law the governor just signed and eliminate the need for a doctor to ever see your animal in person, essentially eliminating the most important tools your veterinarian has to get to the bottom of what is going — their hands, eyes, ears and nose. 144 would not benefit people or their animals and would create real safety concerns. It would only help corporate entities focused on profits, allowing them to push medicine to animal owners via online platforms. Animals would be the ones suffering in this situation, as they would not be getting accurate, affordable, timely care.

The second ballot initiative, 145, is also funded by outside corporate interests and will allow creation of a new animal health position called a veterinary professional associate or VPA. 145 would create an individual who is not licensed to practice medicine, has not gone through an accredited veterinary education program, has not passed a national exam, will not have sufficient liability protections, who would not be able to prescribe medicines due to Federal law and who will be under-trained through primarily an online master’s program, who would then be allowed to actually practice veterinary medicine on your pets. This VPA would be allowed to do surgery on your animals, diagnose diseases, interpret lab test results and prescribe a treatment plan — all without a license. Things only a veterinarian is sufficiently trained and licensed to do. Corporate interests want VPAs to practice medicine without the consumer protection safeguards that exist for licensed veterinarians.

If this sounds crazy to you, then you can understand my grave concern for the animals of our state for whom we are responsible and my sincere alarm for public safety in the consideration of a VPA.

Skilled Veterinary technicians are already more qualified than this contemplated VPA. They have comprehensive training, take a national exam and are regulated by the state. We passed another strong bipartisan bill to elevate vet techs with HB24-1047 Veterinary Technician Scope of Practice.

Ballot initiatives 144 and 145 will not help animals nor the people who care for them. Not only do we not need these measures, they are dangerous. Please do not sign these petitions.

Karen McCormick is the state representative for House District 11. She can be reached at

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