I just completed my reaccreditation for the National Veterinary Accreditation Program and realized that the general public has no idea how veterinarians serve as quasi-governmental officials that help keep the state and nation’s livestock, poultry, companion and other animals safe and healthy.

I thought this was a great opportunity to share that information.

As described by USDA

Accredited veterinarians are essential in surveillance, control, and eradication programs for many diseases. For movement of animals within the State, between States, or internationally, a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) or International Health Certificate (IHC) is usually required. These documents serve as a record, attesting to the lack of apparent illness in animals inspected by an accredited veterinarian These documents also serve as proof of documented test results and certification statements.

By performing these services, veterinarians assume certain liabilities:

By completing and signing a CVI or IHC for an animal, you are using your professional judgment based on available information. Under no circumstance should a certificate be completed and signed when the health of an animal is questionable or the information provided is not accurate and complete. Your diligence can prevent animals from introducing disease into flocks within a given State, other States or countries.

IHCs and CVIs issued by an accredited veterinarian are legal documents. Providing false or incorrect information may subject you to civil and criminal action as well as suspension or revocation of your accredited status. In the event that an error, omission, or irregularity in a submitted certificate is noted by VS personnel, APHIS Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) is notified and is responsible for investigating alleged violations.

USDA warns veterinarians that certain actions can increase their potential liability, such as:

  • leaving blanks on paperwork post-signature for the staff to fill in later;

  • allowing owners to submit animal tissue or blood samples to the laboratory for testing; and

  • failing to confirm the official identification of the animals(s) being certified.

Animals that are transported interstate without the proper paperwork could be quarantined, confiscated or worse.

Veterinarians performing services as under the federal accreditation program should take those responsibilities seriously to avoid legal challenges and ensure that animals are properly examined and documented.