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North Carolina Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

Under North Carolina law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-179 through N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.15.

State Veterinary Medical Board

The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board consists of eight members.  Four of these members must be legal residents of and licensed to practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina for not less than five years preceding their appointment.  The other members shall not be licensed and represent the interest of the public at large.  The Commissioner of Agriculture shall biennially appoint the State Veterinarian or another veterinarian from a staff of a North Carolina department.  This member must have been a legal resident of and licensed to practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina for not less than five years preceding his/her appointment[i].

The board is empowered to examine and determine the qualifications and fitness of applicants for a license to practice veterinary medicine.  The board may issue, renew, deny, suspend, or revoke licenses and limit veterinary licenses or otherwise discipline veterinarians.  The board may also conduct investigations and discipline veterinarians[ii].  In addition, the board will also fix minimum standards for continuing veterinary medical education for veterinarians, a condition precedent to the renewal of a veterinary license, limited license, veterinary faculty certificate, zoo veterinary certificate, or veterinary technician registration, respectively.  The board will inspect any hospitals, clinics or other facilities used by any practicing veterinarian[iii].

Licensure Requirements

Any person desiring a license to practice veterinary medicine in New York shall make a written application to the Board.  The applicant must be a graduate of an accredited or approved veterinary school and a person of good moral character.  The application shall be accompanied by the requisite fees.  An application from a graduate of a nonaccredited college of veterinary medicine outside the U.S. and Canada may not be considered by the Board until the applicant furnishes satisfactory proof of graduation from a college of veterinary medicine and of successful completion of the certification program by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  The board may grant a license if the applicant meet all the requirements[iv].  Any person holding a valid license to practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina on July 1, 1974, will be recognized as a licensed veterinarian[v].

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.3 deals with applicants licensed in other states.  Accordingly, the board may issue a license without written examination, other than the written North Carolina license examination, to applicants already licensed in another state.  Such applicants must present evidence that:

  • The applicant is currently an active, competent practitioner in good standing.
  • The applicant has practiced at least three of the five years immediately preceding filing the application.
  • The applicant currently holds an active license in another state.
  • There is no disciplinary proceeding or unresolved complaint pending against the applicant at the time a license is to be issued by North Carolina.  It is to be noted that any disciplinary actions taken against the applicant in the state where s/he is licensed will not affect the applicant’s competency to practice veterinary medicine.
  • The licensure requirements in the other state are substantially equivalent to those required by this State.
  • The applicant has achieved a passing score on the written North Carolina license examination[vi]

Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.4, the board may issue, without examination, a temporary permit to a qualified applicant for license pending examination.  However, such temporary permit will expire the day after the notice of results of the first examination given after the permit is issued.  Similarly, a temporary permit may be issued to a nonresident veterinarian validly licensed in another state or a foreign country, for a period of no more than 60 days.  The board may revoke a temporary permit by majority vote without a hearing[vii].

All licenses and limited licenses expire annually or biennially and may be renewed after paying the renewal fee.  Failure to apply for renewal within 60 days after expiration will result in automatic revocation of the license.  However, any person may renew a license at any time within two years following its expiration upon application and compliance with Board requirements and the payment of all applicable fees if the applicant is otherwise eligible for such renewal[viii].

Discipline of Veterinarians

The Board is authorized to discipline licensees engaging in unlawful practice and may impose a civil monetary penalty of up to $ 5,000 for each violation.  The amount of the civil penalty depends upon the degree and extent of harm to the public health or to the health of the animal under the licensee’s care, the duration and gravity of the violation, whether the violation was committed willfully or intentionally or reflects a continuing pattern., etc.  The board will also examine the licensee’s prior disciplinary record and check whether the violation involved elements of fraud or deception[ix].

Grounds for disciplinary action include but are not limited to the following:

  • The employment of fraud, misrepresentation, or deception in obtaining a license.
  • An adjudication of insanity or incompetency.
  • The impairment of a person holding a license issued by the Board, when the impairment is caused by that person’s use of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances, and the impairment interferes with that person’s ability to practice within the scope of the license with reasonable skill and safety and in a manner not harmful to the public or to animals under the person’s care.
  • The use of advertising or solicitation which is false, misleading, or deceptive.
  • Conviction of a felony or other public offense involving moral turpitude.
  • Incompetence, gross negligence, or other malpractice in the practice of veterinary medicine.
  • Having professional association with or knowingly employing any person practicing veterinary medicine unlawfully.
  • Fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any test for disease in animals.
  • Failure to keep veterinary premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • Failure to report, as required by the laws and regulations of the State, or making false report of, any contagious or infectious disease.
  • Dishonesty or gross negligence in the inspection of foodstuffs or the issuance of health or inspection certificates.
  • Conviction of a criminal offense involving cruelty to animals or the act of cruelty to animals.
  • Revocation of a license to practice veterinary medicine by another state, territory or district of the United States only if the grounds for revocation in the other jurisdiction would also result in revocation of the practitioner’s license in this State.
  • Unprofessional conduct.
  • Conviction of a federal or state criminal offense involving the illegal use, prescription, sale, or handling of controlled substances, other drugs, or medicines.
  • Failure to comply with regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding biologics, controlled substances, drugs, or medicines[x].

Persons engaging in unauthorized practice may be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and each act of such unlawful practice will constitute a separate offense[xi].

[i] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-182.

[ii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-185.

[iii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-186.

[iv] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.

[v] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.2.

[vi] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.3.

[vii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.4.

[viii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.5.

[ix] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.8.

[x] Id.

[xi] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-187.12.


Inside North Carolina Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians