Eau Claire (WQOW) - Some animal doctors who make house calls are being told they have to stay put. That has farmers wondering how their animals will be treated. This is an unusual situation to say the least.
It's based on a law few people know about that was passed in the 1970's. It has animal doctors scratching their heads.
"I've been in the business 35 years or more and it's been that way ever since. You know, we've done it."
It's common for people to bring their animals in to places like Westgate Animal Hospital in Eau Claire. But little known legislation from the 70's has forced the clinic to change policies for veterinarians heading out on a call.
"We found out about it about six months ago, there was a lady from the AVMA who was on the board who is from the area. She was here visiting and she said "Do you know that you can't do this?" And we were like flabbergasted! It was like "No!"
The Controlled Substances Act makes it illegal to take drugs used for animal treatment off site.
"In a hit by car situation, where someone would call and say there's a large dog out here. We would need to be able to take some sedation which often times includes a narcotic."
It's a practice that isn't just done for emergencies.
"There are people that have 125 pound dogs that go down for whatever reason, they can't get them up to get them in. They want to know if someone can come out and treat the dog."
And many vets deal with more than just pets.
"The large animal doctors, they need to go to their patients. It's not all feasible. The farmers just don't have the time, the ability to bring in a cow to be treated."
A non-profit group is pushing for Congress to pass an amendment to the law, but in the meantime vets say they just have to be the bearer of bad news.
"They now have a dog that they'd like to put to sleep at home, just for the comfort of the pet but also for their grief processes, it can help them. And we're not able to do that."
We also reached out to a number of other veterinarians here in our area. They chose not to go on camera but several told us they still do house visits and were going to look into the law further before they would comment. The local veterinarian said the AVMA broke the news to them. That's the American Veterinary Medical Association. We contacted that agency today to ask why now? We were not given a clear answer, but were told the federal government started reaching out to veterinarians in several states last spring reminding them the practice was illegal.