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Michigan Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

Under Michigan law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under MCLS § 333.18801 through MCLS § 333.18838.

Board of Veterinary Medicine

The Michigan board of veterinary medicine consists of a total of nine members including five veterinarians, one veterinary technician, and three public members[i].  The chief of the animal health division of the department of agriculture is an ex officio member without vote.  The requirement that a board member must have practiced the profession for two years immediately before appointment is waived until September 30, 1980 for members of the board who are licensed in a health profession subfield.  The terms of office of individual members, except those appointed to fill vacancies, expire four years after appointment on December 31 of the year in which the term expires[ii].  The board shall advise the department of agriculture in matters pertaining to animal diseases[iii].

Licensure Requirements

According to MCLS § 333.18811, a person shall not engage in the practice of veterinary medicine unless licensed or otherwise authorized by law.  Also, only authorized persons can use the titles of “veterinary”, “veterinarian”, “veterinary doctor”, “veterinary surgeon”, “doctor of veterinary medicine”, “v.m.d.” or “d.v.m..”[iv]

A limited license for practice apart from veterinary education shall require that the individual be a senior student in an approved school of veterinary medicine and be under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed by this state. Graduates of nonapproved veterinary education programs may be granted a limited license[vi].

An individual is not engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine in Michigan who:

  • Administers to livestock owned by that individual, except when the title is vested in him or her for the purpose of circumventing this act.
  • Conducts experimentation and scientific research in the development of methods, techniques, or treatments directly or indirectly applicable to the problems of medicine and who in connection therewith uses animals.
  • Conducts routine vaccination and pullorum testing of poultry under supervision of the national poultry improvement plan as administered by the official state agency and the United States department of agriculture.
  • Is a regularly employed veterinarian of the United States department of agriculture or a full-time veterinary food inspector while engaged in the inspection of animals as food for human consumption[vii].

Liability of Veterinarians

A veterinarian will not be liable for civil damages for the injury or death of an animal resulting from the acts or omissions by the veterinarian or the euthanasia of a seriously injured or seriously ill animal if[viii]:

  • The animal has been brought to the veterinarian or veterinary technician by a person other than the owner of the animal.
  • The veterinarian or veterinary technician does not know who owns the animal or is unable to contact the owner of the animal before a decision must be made with respect to emergency treatment or euthanasia.

However, no immunity will be granted to an act or omission by a veterinarian amounting to gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct in providing treatment to an animal.  Further, the veterinarian is obligated to notify the animal control authority in the county in which the animal is found of the disposition of the treatment rendered to the animal before the end of the first business day following the day treatment is rendered[ix].

Similarly, a veterinarian or veterinary technician who in good faith reports to a peace officer, an animal control officer, or an officer of a private organization devoted to the humane treatment of animals an animal that the veterinarian or veterinary technician knows or reasonably believes to be abandoned, neglected, or abused is immune from civil or criminal liability for making the report.[x].
In addition to the grounds set forth in part 161, the disciplinary subcommittee may fine, reprimand, or place a licensee on probation, or deny, limit, suspend, or revoke the license of a veterinarian for fraudulent use or misuse of a health certificate, inspection certificate, vaccination certificate, test chart, meat inspection stamp, or other blank form used in the practice of veterinary medicine that might lead to the dissemination of disease, unlawful transportation of diseased animals, or the sale of inedible products of animal origin for human consumption.

A veterinarian may dispose of an animal placed in the veterinarian’s custody for treatment, boarding, or other care and abandoned by its owner by sending the notices required by this section. The veterinarian shall send a first written notice of an intent to dispose of the animal by certified mail to the owner, at his or her last known address and a second written notice not less than 5 days after sending the first notice. Upon the expiration of 5 days after sending the second written notice to the owner, a veterinarian may dispose of the animal[xii].

[i] MCLS § 333.18821.

[ii] Id.

[iii] MCLS § 333.18822.

[iv] MCLS § 333.18811.

[v] MCLS § 333.18812.

[vi] Id.

[vii] MCLS § 333.18814.

[viii] MCLS § 333.18826.

[ix] Id.

[x] MCLS § 333.18827.

[xi] MCLS § 333.18835.

[xii] MCLS § 333.18838.

Inside Michigan Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians