I attended the 22nd Annual Animal Veterinary Medical Law Association’s Continuing Education Convention, as a speaker, in Boston this past week-end.  This is always a fascinating meeting where veterinarians, attorneys, and those with both degrees (or in training) meet to discuss the latest developments in the field of animal law that impacts the veterinary profession.

As always, Adrian Hochstadt, JD, CAE Asst. Dir. State Relations for the AVMA presented the Annual Meeting State Legislative Update.

He reported that 163,000 state bills were introduced during 2013-2014 and of that, 58,000 bills were adopted.  The AVMA sent over 2,000 legislative and regulatory alerts to individual state VMA’s informing them of bills introduced or adopted in their state.  As a consultant for the AVMA, I provided some of those alerts.

There are some proposed laws like, for example, bans on commercially bred dogs, or post-research adoption requirements for dogs in research facilities, that are introduced in multiple states.  During 2013-2014 there was more legislation introduced affecting companion animal practice, and less affecting livestock and equine practice.  This has not always been the case.

Several state legislatures introduced bills limiting and/or defining the practice of veterinary medicine.  New York introduced a bill which expressly defined the practice of veterinary medicine to include treatment of dental conditions, but exempted equine teeth floating.

Floating teeth is a procedure where a large file is used to smooth the outer edge of horses upper premolars and molars and the inner edge of their lower molars, since these teeth do not align perfectly on each other, resulting in sharp points that can cause ulceration and injury if not smoothed out periodically.

Copyright: verastuchelova / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: verastuchelova / 123RF Stock Photo

Floating teeth is tough work, which not all equine practitioners perform.  Some states, like New York, permit non-veterinary practitioners to perform these tasks, as long as sedatives are not prescribed or administered, unless they are provided by a licensed veterinarian.

Adrian reported that a bill introduced in Vermont also added dentistry to the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine.  Other states, including New Jersey have included “dentistry” in its definition of veterinary practice for as long as I can remember.

Indiana expressly excluded equine massage therapy from the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine.

More to come on other areas of significant legal importance to veterinarians, animals and their clients, including: veterinary prescription requirements and practices; compounding; laws impacting the veterinarian-client-patient relationship; antibiotic use, anti-trust issues in veterinary medicine; telemedicine; pet breeders and retailers; biomedical research; taxes and more.

Stay tuned!