Business and Professions

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AB 316
Page 1
Date of Hearing: April 21, 2015
ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS
Susan Bonilla, Chair
AB 316 (Maienschein) – As Amended March 26, 2015
SUBJECT: Veterinarians.
SUMMARY: Permits a veterinarian licensed in another state to be called to California by law
enforcement, animal control, or a humane officer, to attend to cases of animal cruelty or animal
fighting as requested, and permits the establishment of temporary shelters for the purpose of
assisting in the investigation.
EXISTING LAW:
1) Establishes the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) within the Department of Consumer
Affairs for the purpose of administering the Veterinary Practice Act (Act). (Business and
Professions Code (BPC) Section 4800 et seq.)
2) States that it is unlawful for any person to practice veterinary medicine in California without
a valid, unexpired or unrevoked license, as specified. (BPC Section 4825)
3) Specifies that the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry occurs when an
individual does any of the following: (BPC Section 4826)
a) Represents himself or herself as engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery
or dentistry;
b) Diagnoses or prescribes a drug, medicine, appliance, application or treatment for the
prevention, cure, or relief of a wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of animals;
c) Administers a drug, medicine or treatment, as specified;
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; or,
f) Uses any words, letters or titles circumstances as to induce the belief that the person
using them is engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry.
4) Requires all veterinarians, actually engaged and employed by the state, or a county, city,
corporation, firm or individual practicing veterinary medicine, to secure a license issued by
the VMB. (BPC Section 4828)
5) Exempts the following from the provisions of the Act: (BPC Section 4830)
a) Veterinarians while serving in any armed branch of the military service of the United
States or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) while actually engaged and
employed in their official capacity;
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b) Regularly licensed veterinarians in actual consultation from other states;
c) Regularly licensed veterinarians actually called from other states to attend cases in this
state, but do not open an office or appoint a place to do business;
d) Veterinarians employed by the University of California, as specified;
e) Students in the school of veterinary medicine of the University of California or the
College of Western University of Health Sciences, as specified;
f) A veterinarian who is employed by the Meat and Poultry Inspection Branch of the
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) while actually engaged and
employed in his or her official capacity; or,
g) Unlicensed personnel employed by the CDFA or the USDA, as specified.
THIS BILL:
1) Exempts, from licensure requirements, a regularly licensed veterinarian who is called from
another state by a law enforcement agency, animal control department, as specified, or a
humane officer to attend to cases that are a part of an investigation of an alleged violation of
federal or state animal fighting or animal cruelty laws within a single geographic location
when the law enforcement agency, animal control department, or humane officer determines
that it is necessary to call the veterinarian in order for the agency or officer to conduct the
investigation in a timely manner.
2) Provides that when determining whether it is necessary to call a veterinarian from another
state, consideration must be given to the availability of veterinarians in California to attend to
these cases.
3) Requires the agency, department or officer that calls a veterinarian to this state to notify the
VMB.
4) Permits a regularly licensed veterinarian who is called from another state to attend to cases
that are a part of investigation, described in 1) above, to provide veterinary medical care for
animals that are affected by the investigation within a temporary shelter facility, as specified.
5) Exempts a temporary shelter or facility from premise requirements if all of the following
conditions are met:
a) The temporary shelter facility is established solely for the purpose of investigation;
b) The temporary shelter facility provides veterinary medical care, shelter, food and water
only to animals that are affected by the investigation;
c) The temporary shelter complies with specified sanitary requirements;
d) A notice is posted in a conspicuous location near the temporary shelter facility to indicate
that the facility is in use for the veterinary medical care of animals affected by an
investigation into alleged violations of federal or state laws; and,
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e) The temporary shelter exists for not more than 60 days, unless the law enforcement
agency, animal control agency, or humane officer determines a longer period of time is
necessary to complete the investigation.
FISCAL EFFECT: Unknown. This bill is keyed fiscal by the Legislative Counsel.
COMMENTS:
1) Purpose. This bill is sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(ASPCA). According to the author, "Large scale animal cruelty cases like animal fighting busts,
hoarding arrests and puppy mill raids can quickly overwhelm a local government’s resources. These
cases are hard to predict and can occur in a diverse range of locations, making planning and
budgeting very difficult. The average cruelty case lasts about 45-50 days and consists of an average
of 461 animals at a cost of $28 per animal per day. At 45 days, the average cost of caring for these
animals is nearly $600,000."
"Additionally, these cases can also overwhelm the local veterinary resources. Local veterinarians
play a key role in assisting with the care of seized animals, but local veterinarians typically have
paying jobs or practices that they must return to. This limits the amount of time they can commit to
cases like these. The combination of huge costs of care for seized animals and the potential to
deplete local veterinary resources can be a huge deterrent for agencies wishing to investigate a case
of large scale animal cruelty in their community."
2) Background. Under current law, there are a limited number of persons who are exempt
from California's veterinary licensure requirements when practicing veterinary services in
California. Exempt individuals include persons such as veterinarians providing services in
the military, licensed veterinarians who have been called in from out of state to assist with
certain cases, veterinarians or persons employed at the University of California for teaching
purposes or other education research and persons employed by federal and state agencies
such as the USDA and the CDFA. Without one of these specific exemptions, any other
person practicing veterinary medicine in California is required to have a California-issued
veterinary license.
This bill seeks to add veterinarians licensed in another state who are called to California to
assist in the event of a large-scale animal cruelty or animal fighting case to be exempt from
California's licensure requirement. Only law enforcement, an animal control department or a
humane officer would be permitted to call a veterinarian into California for these purposes.
In addition, this bill would permit the veterinarian licensed outside of California to treat
animals in a temporary shelter, as long as the shelter has only been established as a part of
the investigation and abides by specific requirements.
Consultants from Out-of-State. The exemption under BPC Section 4830(a)(3) governing
out-of-state veterinarians acting as consultants in California was designed to provide
California-licensed veterinarians with the flexibility to utilize the experience of an out-ofstate veterinarian with a particular skill. According to the VMB, the intent of the
authorization to allow veterinarians from outside of California was to enhance the practice of
veterinary medicine while limiting unlicensed practice. Veterinarians who are called into
California are not permitted to establish a practice in state or practice on animals outside of
the consultation request without obtaining the appropriate license to practice in California.
This bill would specifically exempt from California licensure requirements veterinarians
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called in by a law enforcement agency, an animal control department, or a humane officer in
the event of a large-scale animal cruelty or animal fighting case. However, this bill would
require those entities to consider the availability of a local veterinarian when determining
when outside assistance is warranted. In addition, if those entities called-in a veterinarian
from another state, they would be required to notify the VMB.
Animal Cruelty Cases. Animal cruelty cases can take a variety of shapes and forms, from
small, one-animal incidents, such as a recent case in Sacramento, where a man was accused
of burning an animal alive in an animal carrier, to large-scale dog fighting raids or hoarding
incidents that involve a large number of animals. The 2007 arrest and subsequent
prosecution of Michael Vick, for his role in a large-scale dog fighting ring, highlighted issues
of cruelty but also raised the issues about the resources needed to care for and treat animals
when such events occur.
Animal fighting is currently illegal in all 50 states. Specifically dogfighting is a felony
offense in all 50 states, and it is also a felony offense under federal law. Other cases of
animal cruelty or animal hoarding occur closer to home. In February 2015, it was reported
that 191 dogs were found abandoned on a property in San Bernardino County. Most likely,
the case required a significant amount of local resources to care for animals and properly
investigate the situation. In the San Bernardino case, the animals were taken to a local
shelter for care.
According to the sponsor, large-scale animal cruelty cases can overwhelm the resources of
the local authorities responding to these cases. The resource challenges are not strictly
monetary but also become resource challenges related to caring for the large number of
animals that most likely have health concerns and other issues. The sponsors note that local
veterinarians typically provide services in these types of cases, but, at times, additional
resources may be necessary. According to the ASPCA, the average cruelty case lasts about
45-50 days and consists of an average of 461 animals at a cost of caring for the animals close
to $600,000. The sponsor notes that the large cost and potential lack of resources could be a
deterrent in prosecuting such cases.
According to the sponsor, animal welfare organizations like the ASPCA, among others, have
response teams in place, including veterinarians, to assist local agencies in cruelty cases or
emergency disaster situations in other states, but often, the veterinarians are only licensed in
their home state. This bill would provide a specific exemption to allow those veterinarians to
be called to California in the event of a large-scale cruelty case to practice in California
without a California-issued license.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, because there is no national reporting
requirement for animal abuse, there is no way to track the number of animal cruelty cases
that are filed or that make it to court each year. Although the total number of cruelty cases is
difficult to assess, in 2013-2014, there were more than 13 seizure cases that the sponsor of
this bill was involved in assisting with across the nation.
Calling in Veterinarians. In the event of an animal cruelty or abuse case, the entities
responsible for handling these cases are local law enforcement, animal control directors and
other local resources. These entities typically work together to determine the appropriate
steps and process for dealing with animal cruelty or abuse cases. This bill proposes that only
law enforcement, a humane officer or an animal control department would be permitted to
AB 316
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call in veterinary assistance from out of state to assist with a cruelty or animal fighting case
investigation.
Temporary Shelters. Under current law, BPC Section 4853 requires all premises where
veterinary medicine is being practiced to obtain a premises permit from the VMB. There are
currently over 3,000 licensed premises in California. In order to obtain the premises permit,
applicants must submit an application which needs to include the type of practice, the
number of employees, the business model, and business owner information, along with a
$200 registration fee. The VMB reports that the application process for a premises permit
takes between three and four weeks. This bill will exempt temporary animal care shelter
facilities from premises requirements as long as the shelter provides veterinary medical care,
shelter, food and water only to the animals affected by the investigation, the temporary
shelter complies with sanitary requirements, a notice is posted about the purpose and use of
the shelter and the temporary shelter does not exist for longer than 60 days unless law
enforcement, animal control or a humane officer determines a longer period is necessary.
The sponsor notes that animal cruelty cases such as animal abandonment issues or puppy mill
raids can happen rather quickly which makes planning and budgeting difficult. This bill aims
to assist local authorities with options for veterinary care and assistance in the event of a
large-scale animal cruelty or animal fighting case by allowing law enforcement, a humane
officer or an animal control department to call a veterinarian licensed in another state for
assistance with veterinary animal care as part of an investigation.
3)
Current Related Legislation. AB 317 (Maienschein) of the current legislative
session, exempts an organization that establishes a temporary shelter facility for the purpose
of providing veterinary medical care, shelter and food and water during a state emergency by
a veterinarian licensed in another state, from a premise registration permit if certain
conditions are met including: providing notice about the use of the temporary shelter;
complying with sanitary standards and ceasing operation within 60 days of establishment.
STATUS: This bill is pending in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.
4)
Prior Related Legislation. AB 2915 (Saldana), Chapter 823, Statutes of 2006,
exempted from state veterinary licensure requirements veterinarians employed by a local
government that met specified conditions, and provided that the exemption sunset on January
1, 2011.
SB 1263 (Soto), Chapter 131, Statutes of 2002, exempted faculty and students of the College
of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences from the laws regulating
the practice of veterinary medicine, and exempt veterinary medical students at the College of
Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Science from having to take the VMB's
law and regulations examination if the student completes certain coursework.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:
The sponsor, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals writes in support,
"[This bill] authorizes law enforcement agencies, animal control agencies and SPCA's who
request veterinarians licensed in another state to assist them with animal cruelty cases under the
existing exemption in [BPC Section 4830(a)(3)] to establish a temporary facility to house
animals rescued as a result of the case. Large scale animal cruelty cases like animal fighting
busts, hoarding arrests, and puppy mill raids can quickly overwhelm a local government's
AB 316
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resources. These care are hard to predict and can occur in a diverse range of location, making
planning and budgeting very difficult."
ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:
None on file.
POLICY ISSUES:
As currently drafted, this bill requires the agency responsible for calling a veterinarian to
California, for the purpose of assisting with a large-scale cruelty or abuse case, to report to the
VMB that they have called in a veterinarian from another state to assist with veterinary care or
services as a result of the investigation. In the event of such a case, local resources may be so
consumed with the case they are unable to report the event to the VMB. The author may wish to
require the organization or veterinarian that has been called to California to also notify the VMB
to ensure that the information is relayed to the appropriate regulatory authority.
AMENDMENTS:
In order to make it clear that the veterinarian practicing from another state has an active license
which has not been disciplined, the author should include the requirement that the veterinary
license be in good standing and not be subject to disciplinary actions in another state.
On page 3, line 25, after "veterinarian" insert: in good standing
On page 4, line 4, after "veterinarian" insert: in good standing
REGISTERED SUPPORT:
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (sponsor)
Contra Costa Humane Society
RedRover
Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation
REGISTERED OPPOSITION:
None on file.
Analysis Prepared by: Elissa Silva / B. & P. / (916) 319-3301
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