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One-third of Texas veterinary board resigns
Resignations come after critical report by Texas regulatory commission
One-third of the members of the board of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) have resigned, the board recently announced. Roland Lenarduzzi, DVM, board president; Dan Craven, DVM, board vice president, and Joe Mac King, DVM, board secretary, made their announcement at a December board meeting. The resignations follow a critical report issued by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. Nicole Oria, executive director of the TBVME, has also resigned, according to board press release.
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission provides monitoring of state agency performance and makes recommendations to the state legislature. Agencies are typically reviewed every 12 years. The commission found that while the state has a continuing need for regulation of veterinary medicine, the board struggles administratively, cannot ensure fair treatment of licensees and complaints, and has an inconsistent and ineffective approach to monitoring the potential diversion of controlled substances. In addition, its statutes and policies don't comply with common licensing standards, according to the report.
The commission, which is made up of members from the state Senate and House and the public, voted to continue the TBVME for four years, rather than 12, and institute quarterly reporting while the commission's recommendations are implemented.
The commission also recommended that the current board members' terms end in September 2017 rather than the current August 2019 term expiration. It suggests a new composition for the board consisting of five veterinarians, one of whom has shelter experience and one who has experience in large animal practice, one licensed veterinary technician and three public members.
As it stands now, members of the TBVME board are appointed by the governor with the consent of the state Senate and serve six-year terms. Of the nine members, six are practicing veterinarians and three are public members. The board president is appointed by the governor, and the full board elects officers on an annual basis.
The commission staff criticized the TBVME for pursuing cases outside of its jurisdiction, specifically in relation to shelter veterinarians. Recent court rulings by the State Office of Administrative Hearings and the 3rd Court of Appeals have left a hole in the regulation of veterinarians who work with shelter and rescue groups, essentially exempting them from the veterinary licensing act and regulation by the TBVME. The commission has recommended that the outdated "designated caregiver" exemption be modified to encompass the scope of practice today.
The Sunset Advisory Commission's report and recommendations will be submitted to the Texas legislature in February for consideration.
TBVME public information officer Loris Jones tells dvm360 that while the board had no statement other than the announcement of the resignations, they are working with the governor's office to name an interim president and appoint new board members.
Several high-profile cases have kept the board in the news over the last few years, including the case against Kristen Lindsey, DVM, the veterinarian at the center of a bow-killing controversy, and the case of Millard Lucien Tierce, DVM, who failed to euthanize client's pets for months or years after telling them he had done so.