Good Samaritan laws protect responders

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At least three states have enacted laws protecting first responders who provide emergency veterinary services to pets but are not veterinarians, according to the AVMA Division of State Advocacy.

These laws are in Colorado, Ohio, and Maryland. In addition, New York and Wisconsin have legislation pending.

Colorado law authorizes "preveterinary emergency care" by emergency service providers to stabilize a dog or cat in an emergency to which the provider is responding, through means of oxygen, fluids, medications, or bandaging, to enable treatment by a veterinarian. Emergency service providers must have had commensurate training and be authorized by their employer to provide the care.

In Ohio, first responders may provide specified emergency medical services to a dog or cat in the course of a medical, fire, or law enforcement response prior to the animal being transferred to a veterinarian. The responders as well as any veterinarian who consults with them during the emergency have immunity from civil liability, criminal prosecution, or professional disciplinary action.

Maryland law confers immunity from civil liability on individuals assisting an animal when the owner or custodian is not available to grant permission. This applies to veterinarians; veterinary students; veterinary technicians; medical care providers; animal control officers; and members of fire departments, ambulance and rescue squads, and law enforcement agencies.

The state of New York is considering legislation to authorize emergency medical care personnel to provide certain emergency care to dogs and cats.

Likewise, Wisconsin has proposed legislation related to the rendering of first aid to animals by emergency medical technicians or first responders.

​Related JAVMA content:

Tending to the needs of pets affected by residential fires (Feb. 15, 2018)