State Legislative Update
Prepared by Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
AVMA Communications Division
April 14, 2014
Supreme Court issued a decision
in a closely watched case involving liability for a biting injury a boy suffered at a farm when trying to pet a horse. Affirming a decision of a lower court, 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 because the animal belongs to a class of animals, such as horses, that is “naturally inclined” to cause such injuries, regardless of whether the animal had previously caused an injury. Accordingly, the owner may be held liable for negligence if he or she fails to take reasonable steps and an injury results. However the court took great pains to explain what the decision does not mean. 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. Strict liability refers to liability without proof that the defendant was negligent. The court also specifically rejected the argument that injuries from horse bites are foreseeable as a matter of law because all horses have a natural propensity to bite under all circumstances. In other words, the court did not conclude that horses may be presumed to be dangerous. Rather, that issue must be decided on a case-by-case basis, and therefore, the case was sent to the trial court for an individual determination of whether the defendant was negligent.
supported by the horse industry and the governor is pending in Connecticut to declare that horses are not inherently vicious or dangerous in civil liability cases.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will consider the extent to which state licensure boards are subject to federal antitrust laws. In the case, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (FTC),
the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that decisions of the North Carolina
Board of Dental Examiners related to unauthorized and unlawful practice are subject to federal antitrust law. The dental board had sent cease-and-desist letters to non-dentist teeth-whitening providers, finding that they engaged in unauthorized practice of dentistry. The FTC issued an administrative complaint against the dental board, charging it with violating federal antitrust law by excluding non-dentist teeth whiteners from the market. If affirmed, the appeals court’s decision could potentially strip various state licensing boards of their authority to regulate and protect the public from unlawful practice. In a petition filed in November 2013, the AVMA joined the American Dental Association, American Medical Association and several other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to consider the case on the grounds that the public is best served when state regulatory boards are free to make decisions on public health issues without fear of second-guessing under federal antitrust laws.
The AVMA is reporting many newly adopted state laws throughout the country in our areas of interest. These include:
- Colorado SB 39 allows an emergency medical service provider to provide pre-veterinary emergency care to dogs and cats with appropriate training and authority by the employer. This legislation recognizes that EMTs occasionally provide emergency care when a pet is involved in situations such as a car accident or home disaster.
- District of Columbia B 20 153 makes several changes to the veterinary practice act, including new licensing rules for veterinary facilities, certification of euthanasia technicians and adding a certified veterinary technician to the Board of Veterinary Medicine.
- Indiana HB 1013 provides that in certain circumstances related to public health and safety, an animal’s veterinary medical records must be released within five business days, even without client authorization.
- Maryland HB 73 and SB 247 overturn a court decision from April 2012 and reinstate the prior law that liability for damages caused by a dog is determined without regard to the breed or heritage of the dog.
- Mississippi SB 2177 removes controlled substances dispensed by a veterinarian from drugs required to be reported to and monitored by the Board of Pharmacy under the state’s prescription monitoring program.
- Mississippi SB 2727 allows for the creation of a trust to provide for an animal after the owner’s death.
South Dakota SB 46 makes some animal cruelty violations Class 6 felonies, meaning that all states now have felony penalties for animal cruelty.
Tennessee HB 1796 categorizes artificial insemination of livestock as an accepted livestock management practice, therefore exempt from the definition of practice of veterinary medicine.
Utah SB 120 exempts an employee of an animal shelter from the requirement to be licensed as a veterinarian for the purpose of administering a rabies vaccination to a shelter animal. The employee must work under the indirect supervision of a veterinarian who has a contract with the shelter.
Virginia HB 972 makes the state the 24th to allow a court to include possession of a companion animal in a protective order.
West Virginia HB 4393 creates a regulatory process for prohibiting and issuing permits for possession of dangerous wild animals.
In Delaware, the secretary of state adopted several recommendations from the Controlled Substance Advisory Committee. The new rules state that prescribers generally may not dispense more than a 72-hour supply of schedule II through V controlled substances. In addition, before dispensing any controlled substance, a veterinarian must advise a client that the prescription may be filled in the veterinarian’s office or any pharmacy. Compounding of a controlled substance by a veterinarian is permitted as long as the United States Pharmacopoeia standards and guidelines are met. Also, technicians may assist practitioners in the filling process, but only under direct supervision.
The link at the top or bottom of this page will take you to the latest chart of significant pending bills and regulations from around the country.