New Ohio Law Allows Emergency Responders to Treat Animals

July 1, 2016
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM, ELS

Dr. Walden received her doctorate in veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University. She is a practicing veterinarian and a certified editor in the life sciences (ELS). She owns Walden Medical Writing, LLC, and writes and edits materials for healthcare professionals and the general public.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed a bill permitting first responders to treat an injured dog or cat at the scene of an emergency. The bill HB 187, was passed by unanimous votes in both the House and Senate and was signed into law on May 31, 2016.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed a bill permitting first responders to treat an injured dog or cat at the scene of an emergency. The bill, HB 187, was passed by unanimous votes in both the House and Senate and was signed into law on May 31, 2016.

Existing state law did not address the treatment of animals by emergency medical personnel. The new law clarifies that first responders arriving at scenes of emergencies to treat humans can also provide specific medical services to injured animals before transferring them to a veterinarian.

The bill was introduced by State Representative Tim Ginter (R-Salem), who was prompted by concern for police dogs that might require emergency care on the job. “Most importantly, this bill will protect canine units and service animals which may be injured at the scene of a response,” said Rep. Ginter, as quoted on the Ohio House of Representatives Majority Caucus Blog.

First responders (emergency medical technicians and paramedics) can provide the allowed services to dogs and cats only to the extent that they are legally authorized to provide the corresponding services to human patients. The following procedures are covered in the bill:

  • Opening and manually maintaining an airway
  • Administering mouth-to-snout or barrier ventilation
  • Administering oxygen
  • Managing mask ventilation
  • Using direct pressure to control hemorrhage
  • Immobilizing fractures
  • Bandaging
  • Administering naloxone hydrochloride (if authorized under specific protocols)

The bill authorizes veterinarians to provide emergency responders with protocols for medical services. It also grants immunity from criminal prosecution, civil damages, and professional disciplinary action to first responders and veterinarians acting in good faith in the absence of deliberate misconduct.

The law will go into effect in late August.