State Legislative Analysis

 State Legislative Mid-Year Report 2014

​American Veterinary Medical Association
Communications Division
State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department
June 18, 2014
As many state legislatures wind down for the year, this is a good time to review how animal health and veterinary medicine have fared. Overall, of the more than 75,000 bills introduced so far this year in the states, almost 20,000 have been passed into law. As always, these include several measures that have or will impact the practice of veterinary medicine. The AVMA has tracked and sent over 600 alerts since January and will continue to do so as bills and regulations are introduced, amended, and adopted. Some of the bills and regulations that are currently categorized as introduced or pending will ultimately become law by the end of the year.

This mid-year report provides both a summary of the various veterinary practice and animal health issues state lawmakers have considered so far in 2014, as well as a more comprehensive review of the bills and regulations tracked by the AVMA. The hyperlinks at the top link directly to the several key issue areas the AVMA has seen debated in state legislatures this year. The report also includes several court decisions that are particularly relevant to veterinary medicine, as well as a few other significant local government developments. This summary and report will be updated at the end of the year, and also posted on the AVMA website. 

Pharmacy continues to be an area that generates considerable interest and activity at the state level. A good example is compounding, where well publicized incidents have led to renewed efforts to regulate the practice. A new Virginia law allows a veterinarian to dispense a compounded drug distributed from a pharmacy under certain circumstances. Minnesota enacted legislation permitting a practitioner to prepare a supply of a compounded drug product sufficient to meet his or her need for dispensing or administering the drug to patients. Similarly, new Delaware rules allow compounding of a controlled substance by a veterinarian as long as certain standards are met.

A few states made changes to their prescription monitoring programs. Colorado, Idaho and Rhode Island require practitioners, including veterinarians, to participate in their programs.   A new Tennessee law requires veterinarians to submit information at least once every seven days and provides that they are not required to use a computerized system in order to submit the required information. On the other hand, Mississippi and Wisconsin took steps to exempt veterinarians from prescription monitoring reporting requirements.

The Delaware Secretary of State adopted several significant rules, including restrictions on dispensing of controlled substances and a new requirement that a veterinarian must advise a client that a prescription for a controlled substance may be filled in the veterinarian’s office or any pharmacy. Oregon adopted a requirement that if requested, a prescription must be provided to a client for medications prescribed by the veterinarian under a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Similarly, new Montana rules state that where a veterinarian, based upon his or her medical opinion, is willing to dispense medication, then the veterinarian must also provide a prescription in place of said medication should the owner request a prescription.

States continue to grapple with scope of practice issues. Tennessee now categorizes artificial insemination of livestock as an accepted livestock management practice, therefore exempting the procedure from the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine. A new law in Utah allows animal shelter employees to administer a rabies vaccination to a shelter animal under the indirect supervision of a veterinarian who has a contract with the shelter. 

In addition, Vermont’s new law includes dentistry in the definition of practice of veterinary medicine, with some exceptions.

Veterinary boards in Louisiana, Oregon and Texas revised their rules pertaining to veterinary technicians, animal euthanasia technicians and equine dental providers.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this year in a case that could have a profound impact on the ability of state boards to limit unlicensed and unregulated individuals from working on animals. An appeals court ruled that decisions of the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners related to unauthorized and unlawful dental practice are subject to federal antitrust law. If affirmed, this decision could potentially strip various state licensing boards of their authority to regulate and protect the public from unlawful practice. 

Virginia and Iowa joined 23 other states that allow a court to include in an order of domestic protection pets or companion animals. In 2014, Mississippi became the 47th state to allow for the creation of a trust to provide for an animal that outlives its owner.

A new law in Colorado allows an emergency medical service provider to provide pre-veterinary emergency care to dogs and cats with appropriate training and authority by the employer. Arizona has a new law that allows temporary permits to veterinarians licensed in other states who enter the state to provide voluntary services during a state of emergency.  

The past few years have seen several states consider laws addressing the keeping of wild and exotic animals. Since January, Oregon and West Virginia adopted measures to restrict and regulate possession of these types of animals.

Maryland passed a law overturning a court decision from April 2012 and reinstating the prior law that liability for damages caused by a dog is determined without regard to the breed or heritage of the dog.

In a closely watched equine liability case in Connecticut, the state supreme court found that an owner or keeper of a domestic animal has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries that are foreseeable. But the court did not adopt a rule under which a keeper of a horse can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal. The legislature also passed a law that clearly establishes that in any civil action brought against the owner or keeper of a horse, pony, donkey or mule to recover damages for personal injury allegedly caused by such animal, there is a presumption that the animal did not have a propensity to engage in behavior that would foreseeably cause injury to humans.

Minnesota enacted a law, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., providing that a higher education research facility that is publicly funded and confines dogs or cats for science, education, or research purposes and plans on euthanizing a dog or cat for other than science, education, or research purposes must first offer the dog or cat to an animal rescue organization. Similar bills have been introduced in other states.

Connecticut and Minnesota adopted new laws to regulate and fund licensing and inspection of commercial dog and cat breeders. The Connecticut law also provides dog and cat purchasers with remedies if an animal purchased at retail is later found to have a congenital defect. The new law further restricts pet shops from obtaining animals from breeders who are not licensed by USDA or have violations of pet dealer-related regulations. A number of local governments have enacted bans prohibiting pet shops from selling dogs and cats obtained from commercial breeders. At press time, one such ordinance has been challenged in court, while a county in Illinois is considering amending the strict ban it recently passed.

Maryland now prohibits a person from: surgically devocalizing a dog or cat; cropping or cutting off the ear of a dog; docking or cutting of the tail of a dog; cutting off the dewclaw of a dog; or surgically birthing a dog. The new law leaves an exemption for veterinarians using anesthesia under specified circumstances.

The Louisiana Board of Animal Health issued rules for the care and well-being of various livestock bred, kept or used for market, show or profit.

Florida, Ohio and District of Columbia beefed up their rules and standards concerning veterinary premises or facilities.

The definition of unprofessional conduct in Montana and North Dakota now include advertising, stating, or implying that a veterinarian is a certified or recognized specialist in a given field unless he or she is a diplomate of a specialty board recognized by the AVMA.

Iowa’s Board of Veterinary Medicine issued a rule that a veterinarian-client-patient relationship cannot be established by contact solely based on a telephonic or electronic communication. The board also adopted a requirement that a veterinarian must maintain for at least five years an easily retrievable record for each patient.

The Ohio State Veterinary Licensing Board now requires effective means of anesthesia monitoring if surgery is performed, issued standards for companion animal home visits, vaccine clinics and livestock ambulatory units, along with revising the criteria for selection of applicants in the loan forgiveness program.

New rules in Montana state that information in veterinary medical records is privileged and confidential and may not be released except under specific circumstances. Also, a veterinarian will be allowed to retain an animal or refuse to release records for failure to pay veterinary bills.

State Legislative and Regulatory Report
The following is a comprehensive topical review of the bills and regulations tracked by the AVMA so far this session.  It includes both adopted measures – those that were signed into law or received final regulatory approval – as well as some of the most significant bills and regulatory proposals that were introduced but have not yet been adopted into law. For a more detailed analysis on any of these topics, please contact the AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department.


View 2014 Mid-Year Report