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Profession faces rising legislation in states


Bethesda, Md.-A bill introduced in the Maryland House of Representatives proposes creating new taxes for professional services that state veterinary leaders consider a slippery slope toward taxing medical care.

Bethesda, Md.-A bill introduced in the Maryland House of Representatives proposes creating new taxes for professional services that state veterinary leaders consider a slippery slope toward taxing medical care.

At presstime, HB 84 specified duties on "luxury" services such as grooming, pet walking and kennel services, as well as horse boarding and training in an effort to boost state coffers, says attorney William Erskine, lobbyist for the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA).

"Maryland has a desire to grow its equine industry and anything that undermines that effort directly affects the veterinary industry," Erskine says. "The bill doesn't specifically call out veterinary services, but we are totally uncomfortable with this because we foresee next year's legislation including the veterinary profession."

As state legislators embark on a new year of lawmaking, Maryland veterinary officials find they're not alone in their efforts to challenge and campaign for bills affecting the profession. The following is a state-by-state synopsis of legislative moves pertaining to the profession, including additional measures facing Maryland veterinarians.


The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association is backing a bill pertaining to certified euthanasia technicians that would enable veterinary technicians working in a humane shelters to be trained to perform euthanasia on small animals. Currently only veterinarians can perform such euthanasia.

Agriculture leaders are seeking $2 million from Congress to better equip the state for a potential animal disease outbreak or for bioterrorism. Funding would enable the purchase of a $1 million carcass disposal system, or tissue digester, which reduces diseased animal tissue to a safe byproduct. The digester is suited to animal carcasses suspected of being infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, agriculture officials report. Remaining funds would help support the upgrade of Auburn's laboratory to biosecurity level 3.


The Alaska Board of Veterinary Examiners is asking state lawmakers to streamline the way practice investigations take place. Veterinary officials are calling for a more cost-effective route to protect the public after an investigation that cost $100,000 caused licensure fees to rise to $400 a year.

State lawmakers are considering implementing a sales tax. Alaska Veterinary Medical Association officials are working to ensure taxing measures do not include professional services.


A bill has been introduced that cleans up some of the language in the state's veterinary practice act. According to the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association, it broadens the definition of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship.


A bill is pending that would tax veterinarians on their services by applying a sales tax. No action had been taken at presstime.


A bill banning declawing exotic cats has been amended, dropped and reintroduced. The California Veterinary Medical Association supports the measure.


A 15-year-old Denver girl has successfully instituted a ballot initiative to ban the use of animals in entertainment venues such as the circus. Residents will vote in August.

HB 04-1261 requires the Bureau of Animal Protection to maintain a statewide dangerous dog registry. The bill also requires courts to order persons convicted of owning dangerous dogs to report any changes in the dog's situation to the bureau, implant the dogs with an identification microchip and pay a $100 licensure fee. The bill states owners must perform one or more of the following: contact the bureau before transferring ownership; obtain $100,000 in liability insurance; or perform community service. Those in violation with the court order can be found in contempt, making the illegal transfer of a dangerous dog a third-class misdemeanor.


Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) officials are preparing to craft a bill to update the state veterinary medical practice act and are in talks with legislators concerning their recent agreement with the Connecticut Association of Veterinary Technicians determining competencies for veterinary technicians and assistants.

The bill, if passed, would allow veterinarians in the state to delegate tasks to employees and charge them with responsibilities according to their competencies.


The Florida Alliance for Animal Owners Rights reportedly is shopping for lawmakers to sponsor a bill that, if passed, would allow providers of alternative and complementary therapies to provide animal healthcare services. The measure is an attempt to legitimize services such as psychic healing and touch therapy.

The coalition has been referred to the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine, which will make a ruling and identify those procedures deemed the practice of veterinary medicine.

The Florida Animal Friends license plate initiative is up for legislative review. If passed, proceeds from the license plate would promote responsible pet ownership and fund spay/neuter programs in Florida. Because the initiative is non-profit, private veterinary practices are not likely to receive any funding.

A number of constitutional amendments, including sales and use tax exemptions, are being reviewed. Although veterinary services enjoy immunity from the state's professional services tax, the Florida Veterinary Medical Association reports momentum is building in the state Legislature to lift such exemptions.

Florida lawmakers have raised requirements on submitting constitutional amendments due to the financial impact of initiatives such as the 2002 ban on sow housing. Constitutional amendments force the state Legislature to fund passed initiatives without regulation from appropriations.


The state has updated the practice act definition of veterinary medicine to include technicians and all medical advances. Before the practice act revision was passed, if someone had more than two technicians on staff, they were breaking the law. Now, the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) is working with the state board of veterinary medicine on specifics for the rules pertaining to what technicians, assistants and veterinarians can do, i.e. the level of supervision.

GVMA also is revitalizing its foundation and is seeking innovative ways to raise money. The foundation is focused on the human animal bond, animal health and welfare, public education on responsible pet ownership, how to select a breed, and the value of the veterinarian in the family.


The Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) is expected to push for legislation to allow a lay entity to perform breeding semen evaluations of bulls. This exam would not include the full breeding soundness examination, as recommended by the Society for Theriogenology.

According to the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA), ICA wants to challenge and change the rules in the state's veterinary practice act. Strongly opposed to the bill, IVMA expresses concern that ICA's proposal would open the door to anybody who wishes to conduct such evaluations and would compromise breeding practices.


The state Department of Professional Regulation has submitted rules to allow the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE) exam in Illinois. The program, operated by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, is designed to aid state veterinary regulatory boards in assessing the educational qualifications of foreign-trained graduates. If the measure is not opposed or altered, it could take effect within 150 days, according to a state lobbyist.

Chicago Alderman Virginia Rugai introduced an ordinance that would prohibit Chicago residents from owning, transporting or selling Pit Bulls. The dogs are defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers or any mix of those breeds. Violators would face fines up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.


The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that there are no categorical exemptions for anyone serving on jury duty. Currently, Indiana law exempts veterinarians from serving on jury duty. The state is now working on language that might provide a reasonable amount of time or one deferral, if veterinarians are called to serve. Other coalitions are involved, including dentists and physicians.

The state's Board of Animal Health approved and adopted emergency rules to meet federal guidelines designed to keep mad cow disease out of the beef supply. Specifically, the rules ban meat-processing plants from using parts that scientists deem mostly likely to carry mad cow disease. Additionally the rules prohibit use of "downer" cattle.


Rep. Tom Sloan from Lawrence, Kan., is sponsoring a bill to establish a pharmacological commission and pharmacological laboratory to test human or veterinary drugs sold or distributed in Kansas. Testing of the drugs would be upon request. The intention of HB 2505 is to halt illicit, illegal or inappropriate drugs that are being sold on the Internet or coming into Kansas from other states or countries, according to the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA).

KVMA, which does not have a position on the bill yet, is corresponding with the legislator to gather input from veterinarians and the veterinary college at Kansas State University in an effort to propose alternatives to the issue.

Livestock Commissioner George Teagarden proposes a bill for a state livestock tagging initiative to enable better tracking of diseased animals. The bill initially would require farms, ranches and feedlots to register with the state and install identification tags on all cattle.


HB 336, known as the "gunshot euthanasia bill" has been introduced to ban the practice of shooting unwanted strays, according to the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association. This marks the third time in three consecutive legislative sessions that state Rep. Roger Thomas (D-Bowling Green) sponsored the bill. Thomas recommends that current law be amended to require a method of euthanasia approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The bill also requires cats and ferrets to receive rabies shots; sets up minimum standards for animal shelters; and allows counties to set up their own licensing programs.


There was no legislative news to report at presstime. The legislative session opens in April.


The Maine Veterinary Medical Association supports bill LD 1763, which calls for adding a spay/neuter donation box to state income tax forms. The donations would be the primary source of funding for the Companion Animal Sterilization Program.

The bill, based on New Hampshire law, would provide funding assistance for spays and neuters to Maine residents who adopt pets from an animal shelter. Disabled, elderly, unemployed or low-income residents who are eligible to receive low-income assistance would pay a $15 fee to cover an examination, vaccinations and sterilization from a participating veterinarian.

Participating DVMs are reimbursed for the difference between the fee and 80 percent of the normal fee for sterilizing the companion animal, less the $15 fee; if the companion animal is owned by a disabled, elderly, low-income or unemployed person, the DVM receives full reimbursement.


HB 24 pertains to animal cruelty, dog fighting and cock fighting and has been re-introduced after failing in the state Senate last year. The bill prohibits conduct already barred by general animal cruelty laws but includes bans on possessing certain devices used in animal fights. The measure is designed to make enforcement easier, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) reports.

HB 78 preempts local governments from passing breed specific legislation. While the bill, at presstime, seems to have died in committee, legislators have created HB 432, which calls for a task force to study the issue of dangerous dogs. A veterinarian has been invited to join the panel.

SB 51 supports the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners' management of its own fees instead of forfeiting the funds to Maryland's treasury. The current system forces board officials to appeal for funding from the state Legislature. Because the bill, if passed, allows veterinarian and technician fees to be used only for the profession, board members likely will up fees from $80 to support the hiring of a larger staff, including an executive director and full-time investigator.

SB 171 prohibits injuring, killing or stealing service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs. While MVMA isn't against the measure, officials believe it might be redundant as the actions already are illegal under current law.


HB 1436 amends current law by adding language that forces owners of "dangerous" dogs that are banished from communities to notify animal control officers where the animal is to be relocated.

The bill gives owners 11 calendar days to notify animal control offers of the banishing community and the receiving community. Both communities can charge a $50 fine per day without exceeding $1,000 if an owner does not comply with the regulation.


The state was expected to introduce a bill at presstime that would limit the ownership of exotic pets. No further information was available.


Rep. Erik Fleming (D-Clinton) has filed a bill that would ban debarking of dogs. He says attacks on police officers in other states persuaded him to pursue state legislation that proposes to prohibit veterinarians from surgically removing a vicious dog's barking capability.


The Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) is watching a bill pertaining to animal physical therapy that would allow for individuals other than veterinarians to conduct physical therapy on animals. It basically says that with a written prescription, anyone can conduct physical therapy. The MVMA is working on alternative wording for the bill, but says it has not officially come out for or against the bill as it stands. The association's stance is that it would be good for veterinarians to have direct supervision in these cases.

New Mexico

See in-depth coverage, p. 8.

New York

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) is monitoring a bill that, if passed, would supersede and instruct municipalities to develop programs for the control of dangerous dogs and list "dangerous dogs" as deadly weapons. NYSVMS officials don't expect bill A09389 to move far as the measure currently is held up in committee.

NYSVMS officials expect a bill to soon resurface to change pet owners to guardians. Sponsored by trial lawyers, the bill died last year in committee.

North Carolina

Lawmakers in the Companion Animals House Interim Committee are attempting to legislate the prevention of unwanted and abandoned companion animals.


Rep. Chris Redfern introduced HB 104, which would prohibit shooting as a method of euthanasia in a publicly-owned animal shelter. In a handful of southern counties in Ohio gunshot euthanasia has been a standard mode of operation. Redfern is also considering expanding the bill to prohibit use of gas chambers for euthanasia. The bill is sitting in the state house criminal justice committee.

Internally, the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association is debating wording in the Ohio Veterinary Practice Act and looks to pursue some modifications. While still in draft form, officials say there are potentially significant changes.


Sen. Sam Helton has withdrawn support for the Dog and Cat Ownership Responsibility Act (S.B. 1130) following overwhelming opposition from purebred dog fanciers and other animal owners, according to the American Kennel Club. The bill would have mandated spaying and neutering of all animals more than 4 months to 6 months of age. Failure to spay or neuter would have resulted in a $100 annual licensing fee for pet owners and noncommercial breeders, and a $1,000 fee for commercial breeders. Officials do not expect the bill to be reintroduced in this session.

For more Oklahoma coverage, see p. 6.


While this year's state Legislature is not considering measures pertaining to the veterinary profession, last year's lawmakers passed an initiative authorizing the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board to impose civil penalties up to $1,000 per infraction on lay veterinarians and veterinarians practicing with suspended licenses or licenses not applicable in the state. The law took effect Jan. 1.

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) is moving this month to revise the standards of practice and care and tackle issues concerning client-patient-doctor privileges. OVMA officials also anticipate measures to arise challenging economic values of pets.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association (RHVMA) plans to support the reintroduction of a bill requiring continuing education for veterinarians. The measure failed at the Statehouse last year.

RHVMA is watching a bill that deems contractual non-compete clauses in human medicine illegal.

South Carolina

State lawmakers are working to revise South Carolina's veterinary medical practice act for the first time in 25 years. The measure passed both houses and, at presstime, was being hashed out in joint committee.

Language in the bill is still being debated, but veterinarians can expect the practice act to provide a legal bridge from veterinary medicine to other therapies, permitting consumers to take pets to practitioners in other professions. It's also likely to require that new licensees serve an internship before entering private practice, add a veterinary technician to the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (BVME) and set qualifying standards for advertising as an emergency facility.

A move to increase public openness in BVME disciplinary proceedings against veterinarians was being heavily debated at presstime, while a significant increase in BVME fines likely will be approved.

South Dakota

The state Department of Agriculture is leading a nine-state optional program that would allow livestock identification if producers want to participate. Agriculture officials in South Dakota are coordinating efforts with state veterinarians in eight states in the Upper Midwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Animal Identification Plan. The goal is to track animals from birth to isolate and prevent disease spread.


SB 2840 titled Animals and Animal Cruelty clarifies state and local administrative duties under the Tennessee Anti-Rabies Law while adding amendments.

The bill is a move by the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) and lawmakers to clean up the state's anti-rabies language to include dogs, cats, ferrets and hybrids. The bill is modeled after the USDA Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control drafted in 2001.

The state's current anti-rabies law, drafted in the 1950s, is plagued with conflicting amendments, TVMA officials say.

TVMA also is seeking to institute a temporary veterinary license for foreign-trained veterinary medical graduates, allowing them to practice under supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The bill's language was being drafted at presstime.


HB 92, a measure fronted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, amends the brucellosis vaccination provision for livestock that specifies vaccination requirements for certain cattle. The proposed legislation says all cattle imported into Utah and all replacement cattle kept for breeding stock will be required to be vaccinated.

At issue is the amount of funding that should be attached to the bill. Currently a compromised level of $20,000 in funds is being discussed.

The Utah Veterinary Medical Association says it is backing the bill for public safety and health reasons and says it's important to seek passage of the bill regardless of the funding level.


Animal welfare groups are pushing a resolution in the Statehouse to study legislation that would require veterinarians to charge for spay and neuter services based on a sliding scale of clients' ability to pay.

The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association is against the issue.


HB 1151, if passed, would regulate the keeping of dangerous wild animals, limiting private ownership without meeting liability insurance and registration requirements. The measure has a companion in the state Senate and is intended to protect the public against health and safety risks that dangerous wild animals pose to the community and protect the welfare of individual animals in private possession.

West Virginia

HB 4167 seeks to create the Exotic Animal Control Board and technical advisory committee to protect the community, agricultural and forestry industries, wildlife and other natural resources from the introduction or spread of disease. The bill, if passed, would regulate possession and sale of domestic and exotic animals requiring pet shop registration, record keeping, possession permits, and establish care and treatment requirements. It authorizes inspections, seizure and quarantine of animals and establishment of penalties and fees.

HB 4096 increases the veterinary fee for vaccinating dogs and cats for rabies from $4 to $8 each in county vaccination clinics. Private practices are not restricted to this price.

HB 3023 provides the agriculture commissioner authority to establish a toll-free lost animal hotline whereby people may report lost domestic animals and livestock as well as report animals found.

HB 4087 allows county commissions to pass ordinances to control cats running at large and create laws to arrest, convict and punish any owner who allows a cat to run at large in spite of the implementation of an ordinance prohibiting the practice.

HB 2248 requires spaying or neutering of certain dogs and cats and penalizes owners for noncompliance. The bill's purpose is to require spaying or neutering of dogs or cats adopted from humane and county animal shelters.


In the wake of a monkeypox outbreak in 2003, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is proposing a mandate that would require veterinary examination of all livestock and pets upon their entering the state. Pet shops purchasing animals from other states would now have to obtain a certificate of veterinary inspection from those states for each animal. The proposed rules were scheduled for public hearing at presstime.


The governor is concerned that the state's brucellosis-free status may be lost. The state is at risk because officials have located two infected herds. Officials suggest the governor may propose a bill to maintain its current status.

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