California Veterinary Law Review

Every state in the United States regulates professions to protect the general public from unscrupulous business practices. The Department of Consumer Affairs is the California agency that oversees these regulations. The Veterinary Medical Board of California supervises Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, Registered Veterinary Technicians and unregistered veterinary workers. It also sets educational standards and manages veterinary medical practice in the state. While business regulations are meant to protect the public from harm by professionals it is very difficult to see the reasoning behind some of the veterinary regulations when we are killing animals daily and using animals as laboratory specimens to test new medical sciences on. Where does harm to the public begin and end when we are harming animals everyday?

The California Business and Professions Code contains the professional codes that govern any regulated profession in California. Chapter 11 Article 2 Section 4825-4831 contains the definition of what the practice of veterinary medicine is defined as and tells us who may engage in this profession. Two sections of this code are very relevant to massage therapist who work with animals and all other complementary health care practitioners who work with animals, Section 4826 and Section 4827. 4826. Section 4826 states as follows:

A person practices veterinary medicine, surgery, and
dentistry, and the various branches thereof, when he or she does any
one of the following:
(a) Represents himself or herself as engaged in the practice of
veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or veterinary dentistry in
any of its branches.
(b) Diagnoses or prescribes a drug, medicine, appliance,
application, or treatment of whatever nature for the prevention, cure
or relief of a wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of
animals.
(c) Administers a drug, medicine, appliance, application, or
treatment of whatever nature for the prevention, cure, or relief of a
wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of animals, except where
the medicine, appliance, application, or treatment is administered by
a registered veterinary technician or an unregistered assistant at
the direction of and under the direct supervision of a licensed
veterinarian subject to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 4832) or
where the drug, including, but not limited to, a drug that is a
controlled substance, is administered by a registered veterinary
technician or an unregistered assistant pursuant to Section 4836.1.
However, no person, other than a licensed veterinarian, may induce
anesthesia unless authorized by regulation of the board.
(d) Performs a surgical or dental operation upon an animal.
(e) Performs any manual procedure for the diagnosis of pregnancy,
sterility, or infertility upon livestock or Equidae.
(f) Uses any words, letters or titles in such connection or under
such circumstances as to induce the belief that the person using them
is engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary
surgery, or veterinary dentistry. This use shall be prima facie
evidence of the intention to represent himself or herself as engaged
in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or
veterinary dentistry. Section 4827 states as follows: 4827. Nothing in this chapter prohibits any person from:
(a) Practicing veterinary medicine as a bona fide owner of one’s
own animals. This exemption applies to the following:
(1) The owner’s bona fide employees.
(2) Any person assisting the owner, provided that the practice is
performed gratuitously.
(b) Lay testing of poultry by the whole blood agglutination test.
For purposes of this section, “poultry” means flocks of avian
species maintained for food production, including, but not limited
to, chickens, turkeys, and exotic fowl.
(c) Making any determination as to the status of pregnancy,
sterility, or infertility upon livestock, equine, or food animals at
the time an animal is being inseminated, providing no charge is made
for this determination.
(d) Administering sodium pentobarbital for euthanasia of sick,
injured, homeless, or unwanted domestic pets or animals without the
presence of a veterinarian when the person is an employee of an
animal control shelter and its agencies or humane society and has
received proper training in the administration of sodium
pentobarbital for these purposes.

In my next blog we will look at how we can comply with these laws and how we can work with DVM’s to provide the proven benefit that massage and other complementary health care for animals supplies.