The Louisiana Veterinary Practice Law governs the regulation and licensing of veterinarians in Louisiana.
Board of Veterinary Medicine
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1515, the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine has been formed within the Department of Health and Hospitals. The board is composed of five members appointed by the governor, each appointed for a term of five years or until his or her successor is appointed. Terms begin on August first and terminate on July thirtieth of the fifth year of the term. Whenever a vacancy occurs under this Section, the State Veterinary Medical Association must nominate three or more qualified persons for each vacancy and forward the nominations to the governor at least thirty days before the date set for the appointment. The governor must appoint one of the persons so nominated to fill the vacancy.
A person is qualified to serve as a member of the board if he is a graduate of a veterinary school, a resident of this state, and has been licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state for the five years immediately preceding the time of his appointment. No person may serve on the board who is or was during the two years immediately preceding his appointment, a member of the faculty, trustee or advisory board of a veterinary school.
The board meets at least once each year at the time and place fixed by rule of the board. Other necessary meetings may be called by the president of the board by giving notice as may be required by rule. A majority of the board constitutes a quorum. Meetings are open to the public, except that the board may meet in closed session to prepare, approve, administer or grade examinations, or to deliberate the qualification of an applicant for license or the disposition of a proceeding to discipline a licensed veterinarian.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1516, at its annual meeting the board shall organize by electing a president, a secretary-treasurer, and such other officers as it may deem necessary, such officers of the board to serve for terms of one year each or until a successor is elected, without limitation on the number of terms an officer may serve. The president shall serve as chairman of the board and shall preside over all meetings.
The duties of the secretary-treasurer shall include carrying on the correspondence of the board, keeping permanent accounts and records of all receipts and disbursements by the board and of all board proceedings, including the disposition of all applications for license, and keeping a register of all persons currently licensed by the board. All board records shall be open to public inspection during regular office hours.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1517, in accordance with Article VII, Section 9 of the Constitution of Louisiana, all revenues received by the board shall be accepted by the executive director and deposited into an account maintained by the board at a financial institution of its choosing for the purposes of administering this Chapter. All expenses of the board shall be paid from this account by legal instrument signed by the president, secretary-treasurer, or executive director of the board, and no part of the state’s general fund shall be expended for this purpose. This account shall be a continuing account and shall not be subject to reversion to the state general fund, except to the extent that the balance in the account at the close of any fiscal year exceeds the current budget of the board by two hundred percent, in which case the excess shall be transferred to and become a part of the state general fund.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1518, the board has the power to:
1) Examine and determine the qualifications and fitness of applicants for a license to practice veterinary medicine in the state.
2) Issue, renew, deny, suspend, or revoke licenses and temporary permits to practice veterinary medicine in the state or otherwise discipline licensed veterinarians consistent with the provisions of this Chapter and the rules and regulations adopted hereunder.
3) Establish and publish annually a schedule of fees which shall be charged for examinations, for registration licenses, and for renewal of registration licenses for veterinarians, which fees shall be based on the anticipated financial requirements of the board for annual operating expenses.
4) Conduct investigations for the purpose of discovering violations of this Chapter or grounds for disciplining licensed veterinarians and issue subpoenas to require attendance, testimony, and production of documents in the process of enforcing the laws relative to the practice of veterinary medicine, and to secure evidence of violation thereof during the investigative stage.
5) Hold hearings on all matters properly brought before the board. Any such hearing shall be called and conducted in compliance with the provision of the Administrative Procedure Act, R.S. 49:950 et seq. The board may designate any three of its members to serve as hearing officers.
6) Employ full-time or part-time professional, clerical, or special personnel necessary to effectuate the provisions of this Chapter, and purchase or rent necessary office space, equipment, and supplies.
7) Appoint from its own membership one or more members to act as representatives of the board at any meeting within or without the state where such representation is deemed desirable.
8. Institute proceedings in the courts for the enforcement of this Chapter or any regulations made pursuant thereto.
9) Adopt, amend, or repeal all rules necessary for its government and all regulations necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this Chapter, including the establishment and publication of standards of professional conduct for the practice of veterinary medicine. Any such rules and regulations shall be adopted, amended, or repealed only in compliance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, R.S. 49:950 et seq.
10) Adopt rules requiring an applicant for licensure to complete an intern program designed to exhibit the applicant’s skills and knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine. The board may appoint the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association as the board’s agent to certify compliance with the veterinary intern program. If the board appoints that association for that purpose, the association may charge a reasonable fee to nonmembers for the administration of the program. The fee shall not exceed the amount of the annual fee for membership in the association.
11) Adopt rules requiring veterinarians who are licensed in this state to participate in a continuing education program, established and regulated by the board, as a condition of retaining their licenses. The board may appoint the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association as the board’s agent to certify participation in the continuing education program. Veterinarians may comply with the continuing education program criteria for retaining their licenses by certifying their participation in programs conducted outside the state of Louisiana. If the board appoints that association for that purpose, the association may charge a reasonable fee to nonmembers for the administration of the program. The fee shall not exceed the amount of the annual fee for membership in the association.
12) (a) Adopt rules to establish a program for inquiries into and determinations concerning whether or not the professional ability of a veterinarian licensed to practice in this state has become impaired. When the board has reasonable cause to believe that the professional ability of a veterinarian licensed to practice in this state has become impaired by mental or physical illness, including but not limited to deterioration caused by age or by excessive use or abuse of drugs, including alcohol, the board shall appoint a committee of one veterinarian and two physicians to examine the physical and mental capacities of the veterinarian and to submit advisory reports and recommendations to the board. The board may appoint the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, or a committee established by that association, as the board’s agent to administer this program.
La. R.S. 37:1518 provides that there is no liability on the part of and no action for damages against:
1) Any member of the board, or its agents or employees, or any member of any committee of veterinarians or physicians appointed or designated by the board, for any action undertaken or performed by such person within the scope of the duties, powers, and functions of the board or such committee as provided for in this Chapter when such person is acting without malice and in the reasonable belief that the action taken by him is warranted.
2) Any person providing information to the board, its agents or employees, or to any committee of veterinarians or physicians appointed or designated by the board, without malice and in the reasonable belief that such information is accurate.
Licensing of Veterinarians and Exceptions
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1514, a license or a valid temporary permit is required to practice veterinary medicine in Louisiana. However, the following persons are exempted:
1) An employee of the federal, state, or local government performing his official duties.
2) A person who is a regular student in a veterinary school performing duties or actions assigned by his instructors, or working under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian during a school vacation period.
3) A person advising with respect to or performing acts that the board by rule has prescribed as accepted livestock management practices. The following are hereby declared to be accepted livestock management practices and shall not require a license:
(a) The collection of semen for quality evaluation of male equine or bovine species conducted for the purpose of processing or freezing of semen for use in artificial insemination.
(b) The nonsurgical impregnation of farm animals with frozen embryos.
(c) The practice of artificial insemination of farm animals.
(d) The teaching in schools and short courses of artificial insemination techniques and pregnancy diagnosis by qualified employees of the National Association of Animal Breeder’s Certified Semen Service Program.
4) A veterinarian regularly licensed in another state consulting with a licensed veterinarian in this state.
5) Any merchant or manufacturer selling, at his regular place of business, medicines, feed, appliances, or other products used in the prevention or treatment of animal diseases.
6) The owner of an animal and the owner’s full-time regular employee caring for and treating the animal belonging to such owner, except where the ownership of the animal was transferred for purposes of circumventing this Chapter.
7) A member of the faculty of a veterinary school performing his regular functions, or a person lecturing, or giving instructions or demonstrations at a veterinary school or in connection with a continuing education course or seminar.
8) Any person selling or applying any pesticide, insecticide, or herbicide.
9) Any person engaging in bona fide scientific research which reasonably requires experimentation involving animals.
10) Registered equine dentists, as provided by Chapter 18-C of this Title, from performing duties authorized by the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1520, any person desiring a license to practice veterinary medicine in this state shall make written application to the board. The applicant shall be at least twenty-one years of age, a graduate of a veterinary school, and a person of good moral character. The application shall contain this information and such other information and proof as the board may require by rule. The application shall be accompanied by a fee in the amount established and published by the board, as provided herein.
La. R.S. 37:1520 provides that if the board determines that the applicant possesses the proper qualifications, it must admit the applicant to the next examination, or if the applicant is eligible for a license without examination under R.S. 37:1522, the board may proceed to grant him or her a license. An applicant found unqualified may demand a hearing on the question of his or her qualification. Any applicant who is found not qualified must have his application fee refunded by the board minus a reasonable fee to cover the cost of processing the application.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1522, the board may issue a license without a written examination to a qualified applicant who furnishes satisfactory proof that s/he is a graduate of a veterinary school and who:
1) Has been for the five years immediately prior to filing his application a practicing veterinarian licensed in a state, territory, or district of the United States having license requirements, at the time the applicant was first licensed, which were substantially equivalent to the requirements of this Chapter; or
2) Has successfully completed within the five years immediately prior to filing this application, all national examinations required of first-time applicants in rules prescribed by the board.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1523, the board may issue without examination a temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine:
1) To a qualified applicant for licensure, pending examination, provided such temporary permit shall expire the day after the notice of results of the first examination given after the permit is issued or as otherwise extended by the board. No temporary permit may be issued to any applicant who has previously failed the examination in this state or in any other state, territory, or district of the United States, or a foreign country.
2) To a nonresident veterinarian validly licensed in another state, territory, or district of the United States or a foreign country who has applied for licensure pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 37:1520, provided that such temporary permit shall expire the day after the notice of results of the first examination given after the permit is issued or as otherwise extended by the board.
La. R.S. 37:1523 provides that a temporary permit may be summarily revoked by a majority vote of the board without a hearing.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1524, all licenses expires annually on September 30th of each year and shall be renewed by making application for renewal of a license with the board and payment of the annual registration renewal fee established and published by the board. On or before July first of each year, the executive director shall mail a notice to each licensed veterinarian that his license will expire on September thirtieth and provide him with a form for re-registration. The executive director shall issue a new certificate of registration to all persons renewing their license under this Chapter.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1525, any person who shall practice veterinary medicine after the expiration of his license and willfully or by neglect fail to renew such license shall be guilty of practicing in violation of this Chapter; however, any person may renew an expired license within five years of the date of its expiration by making written application for renewal and paying the current renewal fee plus all delinquent renewal fees. After five years have elapsed since the date of the expiration, a license may not be renewed, but the holder must make application for a new license and submit to the license examination.
The board may by rule waive the payment of the annual registration renewal fee of a licensed veterinarian during the period when he is on active duty with any branch of the armed services of the United States, not to exceed three years or the duration of a national emergency, whichever is longer.
Disciplining of Licensees
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1526, upon written complaint sworn to by any person, the board may, after a hearing held pursuant to R.S. 37:1518(5) and by a concurrence of three members, assess a fine not to exceed the sum of one thousand dollars, revoke or suspend for a specified time the license of or otherwise discipline, any licensed veterinarian for any of the following reasons:
1) The employment of fraud, misrepresentation, or deception in obtaining a license.
2) Declaration of insanity or incompetency by a court of law.
3) Chronic inebriety or habitual use of drugs.
4) The use of any advertising or solicitation which is false, misleading, or is otherwise deemed unprofessional under regulations adopted by the board.
5) Conviction or cash compromise of a felony, or other public offense involving moral turpitude.
6) Incompetence, gross negligence, or other malpractice in the practice of veterinary medicine.
7) Having professional association with or employing any person practicing veterinary medicine unlawfully.
8) Fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any test for disease in animals.
9) Failure to keep veterinary premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition.
10) Failure to report, as required by law, or making false report of, any contagious or infectious disease.
11) Dishonesty or gross negligence in the inspection of foodstuffs or the issuance of health or inspection certificates.
12) Cruelty to animals.
13) Revocation of a license to practice veterinary medicine by another state, territory, or district of the United States on grounds other than nonpayment of registration fee.
14) Unprofessional conduct as defined in regulations adopted by the board.
15) Fraud or dishonesty in connection with the practice of veterinary medicine.
La. R.S. 37:1526 provides that in addition to the disciplinary action or fines assessed by the board, the board may assess all costs incurred in connection with the proceedings, including but not limited to investigator, stenographer, and attorney fees and court costs.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1530, any person whose license is suspended or revoked may, at the discretion of the board, be relicensed or reinstated at any time without an examination by majority vote of the board on written application made to the board showing cause justifying relicensing or reinstatement.
Violations and Penalty
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1531, any person who practices veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $500, or imprisoned for no more than 90days, or both, and each act of such unlawful practice constitutes a distinct and separate offense.
In addition to any other civil remedy or criminal penalty provided for in this Chapter, the board may, by majority vote, issue a subpoena to any person or persons who the board has probable cause to believe has engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit. Subpoenas issued by the board shall comply with the notice requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. The subpoena shall be served upon the unlicensed individual personally or by any type of mailing requiring a return receipt and shall include a statement of the manner in which the unlicensed person shall be required to respond to the board.
La. R.S. 37:1531 provides that the board may, by majority vote, levy a civil penalty of no more than one thousand dollars per offense upon any unlicensed person who, after a hearing or informal resolution in accordance with all provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, is found to have practiced veterinary medicine without benefit of a currently valid license having been issued by this board pursuant to the provisions of this Chapter. In addition, the board may assess costs and attorney’s fees may be recovered.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1531, no person practicing veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit shall have the right to receive any compensation for services so rendered. In addition to the penalties imposed under Paragraph (3) of this Subsection, any person who practices veterinary medicine without a license shall return any fees collected for practicing veterinary medicine and shall be liable for any damages resulting from negligence.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 37:1532, the board or any citizen of this state may bring an action to enjoin any person from practicing veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit. If the court finds that the person is violating, or is threatening to violate, this Chapter it shall enter an injunction restraining him from such unlawful acts. The successful maintenance of an action based on any one of the remedies set forth in this Section shall in no way prejudice the prosecution of an action based on any other of the remedies.