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Oregon Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

The Oregon laws on regulation and licensing of veterinarians are found in ORS §§ 686.010 through 686.990.  Pursuant to the statutes, there is created the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board, which must carry out the purposes and enforce the provisions of this chapter.  The board must consist of eight members appointed by the Governor for a term of four years.  Five members must be licensed to practice veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry in this state. Two members must be public members. One member must be a certified veterinary technician.  All members of the board must be residents of this state. A public member may not be a person licensed under this chapter or a person who has a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent or sibling who is licensed under this chapter.  Any appointments to fill vacancies by reason of death, resignation or removal must be made by the Governor for the residue of the term of the retiring member. All appointments of members of the board by the Governor are subject to confirmation by the Senate in the manner provided in ORS 171.562 and 171.565[i].

Licensing of Veterinarians

In Oregon, except as otherwise provided by this chapter, no person must:

  • Practice veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry, in this state unless the person holds a valid license issued by the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board and the license is not expired, revoked or suspended at the time of practice.
  • Affix or append any letters to the name of the person, indicating a degree in medicine, such as V.S., V.D., D.V.S., M.D.C., D.M.C., D.V.M., or use the word doctor, veterinary, veterinarian, professor, animal doctor, animal surgeon, or any abbreviation or combination thereof of similar import in connection with the name of the person, or any trade name with which the person is interested, in the conduct of any occupation or profession pertaining to the diagnosis or treatment of animal diseases or conditions mentioned in this chapter, unless such person is legally entitled to use such designation.

A person who holds a valid license issued by the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board that is not expired, revoked or suspended is exempt from the provisions of ORS 348.609 (1) to (4)[ii].  No person must be licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state unless the person:

  • Is a graduate of a veterinary college or a veterinary department of a university or college of good standing and repute.
  • Has satisfactorily passed the examination provided in ORS 686.075.
  • Has completed at least one year in active practice in any state or territory of the United States or has completed at least a one-year internship in the State of Oregon, as provided in ORS 686.085[iii].

Pursuant to ORS § 686.075, all applicants for a license must be given a written examination. In addition to preparing its own examination, the board may adopt by rule and use a written or oral examination or any part thereof prescribed by a nationally recognized professional veterinary organization. The examination shall be designed to test both the scientific and practical knowledge of applicants and sufficiently exacting to test the applicant’s fitness to practice veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry. The written examination shall be so conducted that the members of the board do not know the name of the applicant whose answers are being graded or judged until after the judging or grading is completed.

If upon an examination judged by the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board sufficiently comprehensive to enable the applicant to actively engage in the practice of veterinary medicine in the state, the applicant demonstrates a scientific and practical knowledge of the art of veterinary medicine, and the applicant complies with the other provisions of this chapter, the board must issue a license to the applicant to practice veterinary medicine in this state.  The license must be signed by the president and executive director of the board, and attested by the board’s seal[iv].

A license or permit must be renewed when the holder:

  • Requests renewal;
  • Pays a fee to the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board to be determined pursuant to ORS 686.255; and
  • Presents evidence of participation in approved professional educational activities during the previous year to the extent established by the board.

Upon failure to pay renewal fees due to absence from the state or for other reasons, a license may be renewed upon payment of late fees set by the board.[v].

Discipline of Veterinarians

The Oregon law provides that with the consent of five members, the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board may discipline in accordance with ORS 686.150 any permit or license holder under this chapter for unprofessional or dishonorable conduct.  The board may discipline in accordance with ORS 686.150 any permit or license holder who:

  • After undergoing a physical or mental health evaluation ordered by the board, has been determined to have a physical condition that makes the permit or license holder unable to safely conduct the practice of veterinary medicine;
  • Has an impairment as defined in ORS 676.303;
  • Publicly professes to cure or treat diseases of a highly contagious, infectious and incurable nature;
  • In any way cares or treats injury and deformity in such a way as to deceive the public; or
  • Tests any horse, mule or ass for glanders, or cow or cattle for tuberculosis, and knowingly, wrongfully and maliciously states verbally or in writing that the animals are diseased or in a disease-free condition contrary to the indication of the test made[vi].

Moreover, when the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board proposes to refuse to issue or renew a license or permit under ORS 686.110 (1)(c), 686.120 or 686.130 or proposes to discipline any permit or license holder in accordance with the provisions of ORS 686.150, opportunity for hearing must be accorded as provided in ORS chapter 183.  Adoption of rules, conduct of hearings, issuance of orders and judicial review of rules and orders must be as provided in ORS chapter 183.  Information that the board or a committee appointed by the board obtains as part of an investigation into licensee or applicant conduct or as part of a contested case proceeding, consent order or stipulated agreement involving licensee or applicant conduct is confidential as provided under ORS 676.175[vii].

If, pursuant to ORS 686.120 and 686.135, the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board determines that disciplinary action is necessary, the board may take any or all of the following actions:

  • Revoke, suspend or refuse to renew the license;
  • Place the person on probation;
  • Suspend execution of an order of the board;
  • Place limitations on an individual’s license or permit to practice veterinary medicine in Oregon;
  • Issue a reprimand or assess to the individual the costs of the disciplinary proceedings;
  • Require board-approved community services; or
  • Impose a civil penalty not to exceed $ 1,000 for each violation[viii].

Upon the complaint of any resident of the state, or upon its own initiative, the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board may investigate any alleged violation of this chapter.  While conducting an investigation, the board may:

(a) Take evidence;

(b) Take depositions of witnesses, including the deposition of the person who is the subject of the investigation, in the manner provided by law in civil cases;

(c) Compel the appearance of witnesses, including the person who is the subject of the investigation, in the manner provided by law in civil cases;

(d) Require answers to interrogatories;

(e) Compel the production of books, papers, electronic files, accounts and other documents pertaining to the investigation;

(f) Issue subpoenas;

(g) Inspect the premises of a veterinary facility in which any part of a licensee’s practice of veterinary medicine is conducted if the board has evidence of conditions that are deficient or not in compliance with standards for veterinary medical facilities adopted by rule by the board; and

(h) Order an applicant or licensee to undergo a mental examination, a physical examination or a professional competency examination when the board has evidence indicating the incapacity of the applicant or licensee to practice veterinary medicine safely.

If after such investigation the board has reason to believe that any person is subject to prosecution criminally for the violation of this chapter, the board must report the case to the appropriate district attorney or to the Attorney General[ix].

The Board concludes that any person is violating the Oregon veterinary medical laws the board may, in its own name, bring an action to enjoin that person from continuing such practice.  The action must be commenced and prosecuted in the same manner as an action not triable by right to a jury.  If, after trial, the court finds that the defendant has been or is violating, or is threatening to violate, the Oregon veterinary medical laws it must enter a permanent injunction restraining the defendant from so doing.  In any such action it must not be necessary to show that any person is especially injured by the acts complained of.  The violation of any such temporary or permanent injunction may be punished by contempt as in other cases[x].

[i] ORS § 686.210.

[ii] ORS § 686.020.

[iii] ORS § 686.045.

[iv] ORS § 686.095.

[v] ORS § 686.110.

[vi] ORS § 686.120.

[vii] ORS § 686.135.

[viii] ORS § 686.150.

[ix] ORS § 686.260.

[x] ORS § 686.270.


Inside Oregon Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians