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Maine Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

Under Maine law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under 32 M.R.S. § 4851 through 32 M.R.S. § 4875.

Powers of the Board

The State Board of Veterinary Medicine consists of 6 members, of which 5 are licensed veterinarians who are residents of Maine and graduates of a veterinary school and who have been licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Maine for the 5 years preceding their appointment[i].

The board has the power to establish standards of qualification for the practice of veterinary medicine in the State and recognize schools of veterinary medicine.  The board also has power to grant and deny licenses and set standards of practice for veterinarians and for the performance of duties by veterinary technicians[ii].

The board is empowered to adopt, amend or repeal rules regarding the conduct of veterinarians including misconduct, fraud, advertising, standards of competency, personal conduct, standards of sanitation for the operation of veterinary hospitals, associations with other veterinarians, unprofessional conduct and qualifications for licensure[iii].

Licensing of Veterinarians

Maine law prohibits practice of veterinary medicine by a person who is not a licensed veterinarian or the holder of a valid temporary permit or permit for the performance of relief.  However, this prohibition does not apply to a federal, state or local government employee performing his/her official duties, a regular student in a veterinary school, persons performing accepted livestock practices, a veterinarian legally licensed in another state consulting with a licensed veterinarian in Maine, owner or caretaker of an animal and the owner’s regular employee caring for and treating the animal, a faculty of a veterinary school, person selling or applying any pesticide or insecticide for the betterment and protection of the animal, any person engaging in bona fide scientific research which reasonably requires experimentation involving animals, person performing artificial insemination commercially, persons performing horseshoeing and trimming of feet or to animal and humane shelters under the supervision of a licensed Maine veterinarian[iv].

An applicant must make a written application and pay the license fee specified under 32 M.R.S. § 4863-A.  The applicant should have a doctorate degree in veterinary medicine from an approved veterinary medicine program recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the board[v].  The board conducts written or practical examinations to assess the applicant’s competence in veterinary medicine as well as to test the applicant’s knowledge of the laws and rules relating to such practice.  In the case of foreign applicants, the board may require successful completion of an equivalent examination, clinical competencies and a command of the English language[vi].  The board may also issue a temporary permit without examination to a qualified applicant for license pending examination.  A temporary permit expires the day after the notice of results of the first examination given after the permit is issued[vii].

In addition, the  board may issue without examination a permit to perform relief veterinary service to a qualified person who holds a doctorate degree in veterinary medicine from an approved veterinary medicine program that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the board.  Such a permit may be issued to foreign educated graduates, and those who hold a current license for the practice of veterinary medicine issued by another state, U.S. territory, province of Canada or other jurisdiction.  The initial term of such a permit may not exceed 30 days, which may be extended according to the board’s discretion[viii].

The board shall grant a license by endorsement to a veterinarian who holds a valid license issued by another state, U.S. territory, province of Canada or other jurisdiction.  The board may require the applicant to submit to an examination covering the laws and rules pertaining to the practice of veterinary medicine in Maine.  Such person should have actively practiced clinical veterinary medicine for 3,000 hours during the 3 years preceding application[ix].

Licenses expire annually and the licensees must renew the licenses after paying the renewal fee[x].  A lapsed license may be reinstated up to 90 days after the date of expiration upon payment of a late fee in addition to the renewal fee.  A person who submits an application for renewal more than 90 days after the license renewal date is subject to all requirements governing new applicants.  However, the board may waive the examination requirement in such cases if the renewal application is received within 2 years from the date of the expiration[xi].  32 M.R.S. § 4863-A
stipulates that the fee for any one purpose may not exceed $ 150 annually.

Discipline of Veterinarians

The board may deny a license, refuse to renew a license or impose the disciplinary sanctions for:

  • Conviction of violation of any federal or state law regulating the possession, distribution or use of any narcotic drug or cannabis;
  • Chronic or habitual use of drugs;
  • A medical finding of mental incompetency;
  • Prescribing narcotic drugs for other than accepted therapeutic purposes;
  • Cruelty to animals;
  • The performance of any inhumane or cruel act, as established by the board and by applicable civil and criminal laws and rules in the treatment or care of any animal;
  • Permitting a veterinary technician to perform prohibited acts;
  • Unprofessional conduct including false or misleading advertisement, knowingly making any false or fraudulent statement in connection with the practice of veterinary medicine, refusing to divulge treatment information to the board,  fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any test for disease in animals or making a false report of any contagious or infectious disease.
  • Unauthorized associations including association for the joint practice of veterinary medicine with any unlicensed person or entity, knowingly aiding and abetting any person not licensed to practice in Maine, the lending, leasing or in any other manner placing of one’s license at the disposal of an unlicensed person and the continuance of a veterinarian in the employ after knowledge that such veterinarian is engaged in the violation of the provisions;
  • Failure to maintain veterinary premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition[xii].

A veterinarian whose license is revoked or suspended may, at the discretion of the board, be relicensed, reregistered or reinstated at any time without an examination by majority vote of the board on written application made to the board showing cause justifying the relicensing, reregistration or reinstatement[xiii].

[i] 32 M.R.S. § 4854.

[ii] 32 M.R.S. § 4859.

[iii] Id.

[iv] 32 M.R.S. § 4860.

[v] 32 M.R.S. § 4861.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Id.

[x] 32 M.R.S. § 4863.

[xi] Id.

[xii] 32 M.R.S. § 4864.

[xiii] 32 M.R.S. § 4869.


Inside Maine Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians