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Tuition assistance in new bill could help ease veterinarian shortage in Arizona

Posted at 5:47 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 22:06:09-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The clinic at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona is closed on Mondays because of a lack of staff. Other services and planned expansions have needed to be limited as well.

“We have the budget, we have the availability, we just can’t find the people to hire to make that happen,” said CEO Steve Farley.

Farley says the veterinarian shortage is at a critical level in our area.

“It hurts pets, it hurts pet owners, it hurts shelters, it hurts the agriculture industry. It's a wide-ranging crisis.”

SB 1271 is aimed at keeping vets in Arizona, by providing up to $100,000 in tuition assistance for students who graduate after January 1st, 2023.

“Even before the pandemic there were estimates for a need for nearly 30 percent more veterinarians in the state of Arizona,” said Dean of the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, Julie Funk.

She says students would need to stay in Arizona for four years and spend two years serving in an animal shelter or rural area to qualify.

“We’ve got 220 soon to be 330 students here at the University of Arizona who have come to this state, are learning here, and we want students who learn in Arizona to stay in Arizona.”

The bill has passed through committee and is headed to the senate floor where it needs to be voted on before moving to the house.

“It’s harder to find a vet or get a vet to respond, especially in the middle of the night, this is something we need to solve across the board,” said Farley.