District of Columbia laws on regulation and licensing of veterinarians can be found in D.C. Code §§ 3-501 through 3-517. Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-505, a board of veterinary medicine is established to protect the public from the practice of veterinary medicine by unqualified persons, and to protect the public from unprofessional conduct by persons licensed to practice veterinary medicine. The Board advises the Mayor with respect to the professional and technical aspects of regulation of veterinarians, regulation of establishments and premises wherein veterinary medicine is practiced and the prescription of reasonable standards of conduct and ethics. The Board consists of 5 members appointed by the Mayor of which four members of the Board are licensed veterinarians and one member is a consumer.
The licensed veterinarian members of the Board must be licensed in the District and be in good standing to engage in the practice of veterinarian medicine in the District, have had 3 years of experience in the practice of veterinary medicine in the District following licensure and must be residents of the District[i].
Licensing of Veterinarians
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-507, the Mayor, upon receipt of a properly completed application and the requisite fees, issues a license to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine in the District to any person:
1) Who is a graduate of a school of veterinary medicine approved by the Mayor;
2) Who has passed an examination as may be prescribed by the Mayor to determine the person’s competence to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine; and
3) Who has not been found in violation of any of the provisions of § 3-509.
The Mayor may waive the examination and may, upon receipt of a properly completed application and the requisite fees, issue a license to any person who:
1) Has passed an examination and who is licensed as a veterinarian in any state or territory of the United States wherein the requirements for licensure are substantially the same as those in effect in the District (as determined by the Mayor), and which state or territory admits licensed veterinarians of the District without examination;
2) Is currently holding a license in good standing as a veterinarian in any state or territory of the United States; and
3) Meets the other qualifications required to practice veterinary medicine.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-507, the Mayor, upon receipt of a properly completed application and the requisite fees, issues an annual license to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine in the District to any graduate of a foreign school of veterinary medicine who has completed the following:
1) Has graduated from a school of veterinary medicine;
2) Has submitted to the Mayor proper credentials as may be determined in regulations issued by the Mayor; and
3) Has passed a written examination as may be required by the Mayor to determine the person’s competency to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-508, every license issued by the Mayor is subject to renewal as determined by the Mayor. Any person who engages in the practice of veterinary medicine after the expiration of his or her license and who willfully or by neglect fails to renew his or her license shall be in violation of this subchapter.
D.C. Code § 3-508 provides that the Mayor may establish continuing education requirements that must be met by licensed veterinarians and all applications for renewal must be accompanied by evidence of compliance with continuing education requirements.
D.C. Code § 3-508 provides that the failure of the licensee to furnish evidence upon application for renewal constitutes grounds for revocation, suspension, or refusal to renew such license unless the Mayor determines that the failure to furnish the evidence was the result of excusable neglect.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-509, the Mayor may suspend, revoke, refuse to issue, renew, or restore a license if the Mayor finds that the applicant or holder thereof:
1) Has engaged in any fraud or deceit in procuring or attempting to procure a license;
2) Has been convicted of a felony or other crime involving moral turpitude;
3) Is a chronic alcoholic, or is a drug user;
4) Uses advertising or solicitation which is false, misleading, or which is determined by the Mayor to be unprofessional;
5) Has demonstrated incompetence or gross negligence in the practice of veterinary medicine;
6) Has knowingly employed a person who is practicing veterinary medicine unlawfully;
7) Has practiced fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any tests for animal disease;
8) Has failed to maintain his premises and equipment in a safe, clean, and sanitary condition;
9) Has failed to report, as required by law, or has made a false report of, any contagious or infectious disease;
10) Has been grossly negligent in the inspection of food-stuffs or the issuance of health or inspection certificates;
11) Has practiced cruelty to animals;
12) Has had his or her license to practice veterinary medicine in another state revoked or suspended on grounds other than nonpayment of the license fee; or
13) Has demonstrated unprofessional conduct as specified in rules issued by the Mayor.
Disciplining of Veterinarians
D.C. Code § 3-509 provides that any denial, suspension, or revocation under this section must be made only upon specific charges in writing and after proper notice and a hearing. The Mayor may reinstate a license which has previously been revoked upon application in writing and after an opportunity for a hearing. No application for reinstatement of a license will be accepted by the Mayor before the expiration of at least 1 year following the date on which the applicant’s license was revoked.
D.C. Code § 3-510 provides that when a written complaint alleging a violation has been filed with the Mayor, the Mayor must initiate an investigation within 30 days, and, absent compelling circumstances, must conclude the investigation within 90 days. The Mayor must cause a certified copy of the charges to be served on the respondent by registered mail at least 20 days prior to the hearing. The attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and documents at the hearing may be compelled by subpoena. If the respondent is found in violation, the Mayor may refuse to issue the respondent a license, or may refuse to renew the license of the respondent, or may revoke or suspend the license of the respondent.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-511, any person aggrieved by any final decision or order of the Mayor denying, suspending, or revoking any license or renewal of a license issued or applied for may obtain a review.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-512, the Mayor may provide for the certification of animal technicians to perform, in the employ of a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine and under his or her immediate and direct supervision and control, acts relating to maintenance of the health of or treatment of any animal. An animal technician may not receive compensation for such acts other than such salary as s/he may be paid by the employing veterinarian. An animal technician must not perform surgery, diagnose or prescribe medication for any animal[ii].
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-512.01, if under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian, the following persons may engage in the practice of veterinary medicine without a license:
1) Students who are fulfilling requirements for a degree in veterinary medicine from a school of veterinary medicine approved by the Mayor; and
2) Graduates of a school of veterinary medicine approved by the Mayor whose first District of Columbia license application is pending.
D.C. Code § 3-512.01 provides that a veterinarian licensed in Maryland or Virginia is permitted to practice veterinary medicine in the District for a period not to exceed 120 hours annually if the veterinarian:
1) Has practiced veterinary medicine for a minimum of 2 years; and
2) Is in good standing with his or her veterinarian boards.
D.C. Code § 3-512.02 provides that a licensed veterinarian is authorized to issue animal licenses and to collect the required fees and may collect an additional $ 2 for each license issued as reimbursement for administrative costs.
However, the following persons are exempted from obtaining a license to perform their functions:
1) An employee or agent of the federal or District governments while performing his or her official duties; except, that no such employee may be authorized to perform surgical operations;
2) A member of the faculty of a school of veterinary medicine while performing his or her regular functions, or a person lecturing or giving instructions or demonstrations at a veterinary school in connection with a continuing education course;
3) Experimentation and scientific research in connection with the study and the development of methods and techniques, directly or indirectly related or applicable to the problems or to the practice of veterinary medicine, when conducted under the auspices of the federal or District governments;
4) A physician licensed to practice medicine in the District or to the licensed physician’s assistant while engaged in educational research under the direct supervision of the licensed veterinarian;
5) A person who is a regular student in a school of veterinary medicine performing duties or actions assigned by his or her instructor, or working under direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian during a school vacation period;
6) A veterinarian regularly licensed in any state from consulting with a licensed veterinarian in the District;
7) The owner of an animal, or the owner’s full-time regular employee, from caring for and treating the ills and injuries of any animal belonging to such owner, except where the ownership of the animal was transferred for the purpose of circumventing this subchapter;
8) Any merchant or manufacturer from selling, at his or her regular place of business, medicine, feed, appliances, or other products used in the prevention or treatment of animal diseases;
9) Any person selling or applying any pesticide, insecticide, or herbicide;
10) Any person approved by the Mayor to perform animal artificial insemination; or
11) Any person engaging in scientific research which reasonably requires experimentation involving animals covered under the provisions of 7 U.S.C.S. § 2131 et seq.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-514, it is unlawful for any person in the District to:
1) Engage in the practice of veterinary medicine unless the person is duly licensed to practice veterinary medicine pursuant to this subchapter;
2) Practice or offer to practice veterinary medicine under any name except the name in which s/he is licensed by the Mayor;
3) Engage in the practice of veterinary medicine without having his or her license and current renewal card conspicuously displayed in the office in which s/he practices;
4) Sell or offer to sell a diploma conferring a veterinary medicine degree, a certificate granted for post graduate work, or a license granted pursuant to authority contained in this subchapter;
5) Fraudulently procure a diploma, certificate, or any other evidence of satisfactory completion of the required educational and professional training for becoming a licensee; or to use such a fraudulently altered document in order to obtain a license to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine;
6) Alter, with fraudulent intent, any diploma, certificate, license or any other evidence of satisfactory completion of the required educational or professional training for becoming a licensee under this subchapter; or to use such fraudulently altered document in order to obtain a license to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine;
7) Practice veterinary medicine under a false name, or assume a title, or append or prefix to his or her name letters which falsely represent him or her as having a degree from a school of veterinary medicine, or make use of the words “veterinary college” or “veterinary school” or equivalent words, when not lawfully authorized to do so;
8) Use, in connection with his or her name, any title, words, abbreviations, or letters in a manner or under circumstances which tend to induce the belief that the person using them is qualified to do any act described in § 3-502(13), except where such person is a licensed veterinarian;
9) Impersonate another at any examination held by the Mayor, or knowingly make a false application or misrepresentation in connection with such examination;
10) Accept any fee, rebate, refund, commission or unearned discount, whether in the form of money or otherwise, as compensation for referring animals to any person in connection with the furnishing of veterinary care or service, diagnosis, treatment, or medication.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-515, any person who violates this subchapter, which includes, but is not limited to, §§ 3-509 and 3-513, or rules issued pursuant to this subchapter, upon conviction thereof, is subject to a fine of not less than $ 300 nor more than $ 1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. Each act of unlawful practice shall constitute a separate offense. Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as alternative sanctions.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-516, prosecution for violation must be conducted in the name of the District of Columbia in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by the Corporation Counsel or his or her assistant.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 3-517, whenever the Mayor finds that any person has engaged in, or is about to engage in, the unlawful practice of veterinary medicine or any act which constitutes or will constitute a violation, the Mayor must make application to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for an order enjoining such unlawful practice or act and upon a showing by the Mayor that the person has engaged in or is about to engage in any unlawful practice or act, an injunction, restraining order, or other orders as may be appropriate must e granted by the Court without bond.
[i] D.C. Code § 3-505.
[ii] D.C. Code § 3-512.