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New Mexico Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

Under New Mexico law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-1 through N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-20 of the Veterinary Practice Act.  It is to be noted that the sections are repealed effective July 1, 2012.  The board of veterinary medicine is terminated on July 1, 2011 pursuant to the Sunset Act and will continue to operate according to the provisions of Chapter 61, Article 14 NMSA 1978 until July 1, 2012[i].

The Board of Veterinary Medicine

The New Mexico board of veterinary medicine consists of seven members who are citizens of the U.S. and residents of New Mexico[ii]. Five of the members shall be licensed veterinarians, and these appointments may be made from a list of five names for each professional vacancy, submitted to the governor by the New Mexico veterinary medical association. Two members shall represent the public and shall not have been licensed as veterinarians or have any significant financial interest, whether direct or indirect, in the occupation regulated. Members are appointed to staggered terms of four years each.  The majority of the members constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, except that the vote of four members is required for suspension or revocation of a license[iii].  The board is empowered to determine the qualifications of applicants for a license to practice veterinary medicine in New Mexico and issue, renew, deny, suspend or revoke licenses.  In addition, the board establishes a schedule of license fees, conduct investigations regarding violations of the Veterinary Practice Act and discipline persons who are found guilty[iv].  The board is also authorized to appoint an impaired-veterinarian committee to organize and administer a diversion program to which the board may refer licensees in lieu of or in addition to other disciplinary action.  The diversion program will serve as a confidential source of treatment or referral for veterinarians who, on a voluntary basis and without the knowledge of the board, desire to avail themselves of treatment for emotionally based or chemical-dependence impairments[v].

Licensing Requirements

Any person desiring a license to practice veterinary medicine in New Mexico must submit an application accompanied by the requisite fees to the board.  The applicant must have reached the age of majority and be of good moral character[vi].  The board has the duty to conduct at least one examination each calendar year after providing public notice of the time and place.  Examinations are designed to test the applicant’s knowledge and proficiency in the practice of veterinary medicine. Immediately after the results of each examination are determined, the board shall notify each applicant of the results of his examination and issue a license to those applicants successfully completing it. Any applicant failing an examination shall be admitted to any subsequent examination upon payment of another application fee[vii].

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-10 enumerates the conditions for a license by endorsement.  As such, the board may issue a license without written examination to any qualified applicant who is a veterinarian and has for the five years next prior to filing his/her application, been a practicing veterinarian and licensed in a state, territory or district of the U.S. having substantially equivalent license requirements at the time the applicant was first licensed[viii].  However, the board will conduct an examination on state laws and other state and federal regulations related to the practice of veterinary medicine.  The board may also issue a limited practice license with examination.  In addition, the board may issue without examination a temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine to the following persons:

  • a qualified applicant for a license pending examination may, at the board’s discretion, be exempted from the requirement of working under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian, provided the applicant submits a written request for such exemption; and
  • no additional temporary permit shall be issued to an applicant who has failed the required components of the New Mexico examination in this or any other state or any other territory, district or commonwealth of the United States; or [ix].

It is to be noted that a temporary permit may be summarily revoked by a majority vote of the board without a hearing[x].

All licenses and permits may be renewed by payment of the renewal fee and submission of proof of completion of continuing education requirements[xi].  Normally, any person may reinstate an expired license or permit within five years of its expiration by making application to the board for renewal and paying the current renewal fee along with all delinquent renewal fees and late fees.  After five years the holder shall apply for a new or permit and take the required examination.  However, the license of a person may not be reinstated if, during the time period his/her license to practice in New Mexico was lapsed, his/her license in another state or jurisdiction was suspended or revoked for reasons for which the license would have been subject to suspension or revocation in New Mexico.  Also, a person who, during the period his/her license to practice in New Mexico was lapsed was subject to any disciplinary proceedings resulting in action less than suspension or revocation in another jurisdiction may have his license to practice in New Mexico reinstated on a probationary status for up to two years[xii].

The board may waive any renewal fee of a licensed veterinarian during any period of active duty in the armed services for the duration of a national emergency[xiii].  The board may issue a license to any person holding a valid license to practice veterinary medicine in New Mexico on the effective date of the Veterinary Practice Act[xiv].

Discipline of Veterinarians

In accordance with the procedures contained in the Uniform Licensing Act, the board may deny, suspend or revoke a license or permit, or may reprimand, place on probation, enter a stipulation with or impose an administrative penalty in an amount not to exceed $ 5,000 on a holder of a license or permit upon the following grounds:

  • has committed an act of fraud, misrepresentation or deception in obtaining a license or permit;
  • has been adjudicated insane or manifestly incapacitated;
  • has used advertising or solicitation that is false, misleading or is otherwise deemed unprofessional under rules promulgated by the board;
  • has been convicted of a felony or other crime involving moral turpitude;
  • is guilty of dishonesty, incompetence, gross negligence or other malpractice in the practice of veterinary medicine;
  • has a professional association with or employs any person practicing veterinary medicine unlawfully;
  • is guilty of fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any test for disease in animals;
  • has failed to maintain his professional premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition in compliance with facility permit rules promulgated by the board;
  • habitual or excessive use of intoxicants or drugs;
  • of cruelty to animals;
  • has had his/her license to revoked by another state, territory or district of the U.S. on grounds other than nonpayment of license or permit fees;
  • is guilty of unprofessional conduct by violation of a rule promulgated by the board pursuant to provisions of the Veterinary Practice Act;
  • has failed as a licensed veterinarian to reasonably exercise direct supervision with respect to a veterinary technician;
  • is guilty of aiding or abetting the practice of veterinary medicine by a person not licensed, certified or permitted by the board;
  • has used any controlled drug or substance on any animal for the purpose of illegally influencing the outcome of a competitive event;
  • has willfully or negligently administered a drug or substance that will adulterate meat, milk, poultry, fish or eggs;
  • has failed to maintain required logs and records;
  • has used a prescription or has sold any prescription drug or prescribed extra-label use of any over-the-counter drug in the absence of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship;
  • has failed to report, as required by law, or has made a false report of any contagious or infectious disease;
  • has engaged in an unfair or deceptive practice; or
  • has engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine on any animal or group of animals in the absence of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Any person whose license, certificate or permit is suspended or revoked by the board pursuant to provisions of this section may, at the discretion of the board, be relicensed or reinstated by the board at any time without examination upon written application to the board showing cause to justify relicensing or reinstatement[xv].

It is to be noted that the following classes of persons are exempted from the purview of the Act[xvi]:

  • employees of federal, state or local governments performing official duties;
  • regular students in a veterinary school performing duties or actions assigned by an instructor or working under direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian during a school vacation period;
  • reciprocal aid of neighbors in performing routine accepted livestock management practices;
  • any veterinarian licensed in any foreign jurisdiction consulting with a licensed veterinarian;
  • any merchant or manufacturer selling at his regular place of business any medicine, feed, appliance or other product used in the prevention or treatment of animal disease;
  • the owner of an animal, his consignees and their employees while performing routine accepted livestock management practices in the care of animals belonging to the owner;
  • a member of the faculty of a veterinary school performing his regular functions or a person lecturing or giving instruction or demonstration at a veterinary school or in connection with a continuing education course or seminar for licensed veterinarians, veterinary technicians or persons holding or training for valid permits for artificial insemination or diagnosing pregnancy;
  • a person selling or applying any pesticide, insecticide or herbicide; or
  • a person engaging in bona fide scientific research that reasonably requires experimentation involving animals.

Every veterinarian using, supervising or employing a registered veterinary technician will be individually liable for the performance of the acts and omissions delegated to the veterinary technician[xvii].

Any person who fails to comply with the provisions of the Veterinary Practice Act will be liable for misdemeanor[xviii].  In addition to any remedy provided for the criminal prosecution of an offender, the board or any other person may bring an action in the district court to enjoin any person who is not a licensed veterinarian from engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine[xix].

[i] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-20.

[ii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-4.

[iii] Id.

[iv] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-5.

[v] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-5.1.

[vi] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-8.

[vii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-9.

[viii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-10.

[ix] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-10.

[x] Id.

[xi] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-12.

[xii] Id.

[xiii] Id.

[xiv] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-15.

[xv] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-13.

[xvi] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-14.

[xvii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-16.

[xviii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-18.

[xix] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-14-19.

Inside New Mexico Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians