Another Vet Power Grab in CA

veterinarianEvery year the California Veterinary Medical Association pushes legislation to enhance the power of veterinarians to regulate their practice.

This year, 2011, is no exception.   

Under California S.B. 697 the state Veterinary Medical Board  targets what are called "unlicensed" persons. Under this bill the Board could issue a civil citation to anyone if "upon completion of an inspection or investigation, the executive officer has probable cause to believe that [the].. unlicensed person [is illegally] acting as a veterinarian or a registered veterinary technician" or has otherwise violated the law in that regard.

It would be up to the person issued the citation to request an administrative hearing and contest the allegations.

Failure to comply with the citation once it is final, would be a misdemeanor.

The Board could also obtain an injunction through the state Attorney General or the local district attorney to stop any unlicensed person believed to be practicing as a veterinarian or a registered veterinary technician or otherwise violating the law in that regard. The unlicensed person could still also be subject to criminal charges. 

This bill would give the state Veterinary Medical Board unbridled power to issue citations to practitioners they believe are practicing veterinary medicine or doing the job of a registered vetererinary technician such as equine or other animal therapists, dentists,  chiropracters and the like.

The prospect of a civil citation with expensive defense costs and limited rights to challenge it, is daunting enough. Add to it the fact the citation will become a misdemeanor if not heeded, and  many of these practitioners will close their practices.  

It is about money, of course. These practitioners offer massage and other therapy services to animals, for example, at much less expense than licensed veterinarians. And many are more skilled at these specialty services.


S.B. 697 has been sent to the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. The committee phone number is (916) 651-4104. Find CA state senators  including your own senator here (click on Find your senator link on the left) Tell committee members and your CA state senator to vote NO on S.B. 697 and preserve practitioners that provide therapies and other services at lower cost for animals and in many cases, with higher quality. 

More power grabs by CVMA 

On January 1, 2010 a new law went into effect in California that states that no city or county are allowed to prohibit a licensed healing arts professional which includes veterinarians from "engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls within the professionally recognized scope of practice".

That means local governments cannot prohibit or regulate acts that are "procedures" a veterinarian would perform even if they constitute animal cruelty. Like declawing cats. In fact, before the law went into effect, a number of California cities passed bans on declawing.

The California Veterinary Medical Association pushed thru this law and in 2010 championed another new law that added a position of registered veterinary technician to the California Veterinary Medical Board and established as permanent the Veterinary Medicine Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee. The committee existed previously but as a voluntary group with less of a role. Now committee positions are paid. The committee now permanently  assists the Board in examination, licensure and registration programs and also in coming up with and implementing rules and regulations.

Surprising really when you consider California’s budget crisis. The state has drastically cut teachers and the number of days homeless animals will be kept alive in public shelters, giving them less time to find homes. But apparently there are taxpayer funds to help veterinarians increase their control over animal care.  

The 2010 law also exempts veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians from liability for services rendered to animals during a state of war or emergency.

2 thoughts on “Another Vet Power Grab in CA”

  1. I find your position to be paradoxical. You claim “to advocate for animals to live and live free of cruelty and neglect” and then take a position against a bill designed to help prevent veterinary practice by unlicensed, un or poorly trained, unsupervised individuals. How does this help animals and their owners? This bill does not change the definition of veterinary practice, it simply allows the Board to cite and fine individuals who violate the practice act and to charge them with a misdemeanor if they continue their activity. There are, literally, hundreds of documented cases of infection and injury(and one death)to animals caused by unlicensed unsupervised individuals cleaning dogs’ teeth. Is it your position that this is in the best interest of animals and their owners? I look forward to your response.

  2. Of course, people practicing veterinary medicine without a license should be stopped and prosecuted. That is the law now.

    What this bill does is give broad power to the Board to issue potentially criminal citations to someone the Board believes is practicing vet medicine without a license. This should be the job of prosecutors, not the Board to make the final determination and issue the citation. This bill will give the Board free rein to target a range of professionals such as animal massage, therapists, chiropracters and the like, services the Board thinks should be performed by vets. As in the human medical field, there are a number of services performed by professionals who are not licensed doctors. There is nothing wrong with that.

    There is also only a very limited appeal procedure; it is the burden of the targeted person to obtain a hearing. This is hardly fair or consistent with due process. It will certainly be a deterrent to anyone practicing a legitimate animal health profession who is not necessarily a veterinarian.

    This is not about good veterinary care; this is about consolidating in the hands of the Board the exclusive power to determine the scope of veterinary medicine and even prosecute those believed to be in violation.

    In fact, it is the veterinary associations like CVMA that have stood in the way of improvements in vet care such as bans on devocalization, declawing and the like.  

    It is the vet associations that have supported cruelty like gas chambers, horse slaughter and have been apologists for poor care by breeders and cruel treatment of animals held in exhibitions, at rodeos or in slaughterhouses. 

    So, I don’t buy the argument that concern for animal care is at the heart of this. It’s about power, control and money.       

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