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Utah Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

The Utah laws on regulation and licensing of veterinarians are found in Utah Code Ann. §§ 58-28-101 through 58-28-605.  Pursuant to the statutes, there is created a Veterinary Board consisting of four veterinarians who have practiced in the state for not less than five years and one member of the general public.  The board can be appointed and serve in accordance with the provisions of Section 58-1-201.  The duties and responsibilities of the board must be in accordance with Sections 58-1-202 and 58-1-203.  The board can designate one of its members to assist and advise the division with reviewing complaints concerning unlawful or unprofessional conduct under this chapter.  A board member may be rescued from any adjudicative proceeding held by the board concerning a complaint for which the board member advised the division under Subsection (4)(a) (1) (a)[i].

Licensing of Veterinarians

A license is required to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine, except as specifically provided in Sections 58-1-307 and 58-28-307.  Moreover, notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection 58-1-307(1)(c) an individual may be licensed under this chapter as a veterinary intern in order to engage in a program of indirectly supervised clinical training with a veterinarian licensed under this chapter, and as necessary to meet licensing requirements under Subsection 58-28-302(1)(d).  The division may issue to a person who qualifies under this chapter a license in the classification of veterinarian or veterinarian intern[ii].

Every applicant for a license to practice veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry must:

(a) be of good moral character as it relates to the functions and duties of a licensed veterinarian;

(b)  pass an examination approved by the board on the theory and practice of the science of veterinary medicine, surgery, dentistry, and other subjects determined by the board, knowledge of which is generally required of veterinarians;

(c) (i) graduate from a veterinary college accredited by the AVMA; or

(ii) obtain a certificate issued by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates issued by the AVMA;

(d) (i) have practiced under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed to practice in this state for a period of at least six months;

(ii) have participated in veterinary investigational, educational, or sanitary control work of a nature and duration as to be the equivalent of the experience of Subsection (1)(d)(i);

(iii) have practiced as a licensed veterinarian outside Utah for a period of at least six months; or

(iv) have practiced as a veterinarian while employed by the United States government, its agencies, or the state or its political subdivisions for a period of at least six months; and

(e) pay a fee to the Department of Commerce determined by it pursuant to Section 63J-1-504 for the examination, for an initial license, and for a renewal license.

Furthermore, an applicant for licensure as a veterinary intern must comply with the provisions of Subsections (1)(a) and (c). An applicant’s license as a veterinary intern is limited to the period of time necessary to complete clinical training as described in Subsection (1)(d) and extends not more than one year from the date the minimum requirement for training is completed, unless the individual presents satisfactory evidence to the division and the board that the individual is making reasonable progress toward passing the qualifying examination or is otherwise on a course reasonably expected to lead to licensure as a veterinarian, but the period of time under this Subsection (2)(b) may not exceed two years past the date the minimum supervised clinical training has been completed.

The statute further provides that a license as a veterinarian issued under this chapter must be issued in accordance with a two-year renewal cycle established by rule.  A renewal period may be extended or shortened by as much as one year to maintain established renewal cycles or to change an established renewal cycle.  A license as a veterinarian intern issued under this chapter must be issued for a term established by the division by rule and consistent with the requirements of Subsection 58-28-302(2)(b).  Each license under this chapter automatically expires on the expiration date shown on the license unless renewed by the licensee in accordance with Section 58-1-308[iv].

Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-401 provides that grounds for refusal to issue a license to an applicant, for refusal to renew the license of a licensee, to revoke, suspend, restrict, or place on probation the license of a licensee, to issue a public or private reprimand to a licensee, and to issue cease and desist orders shall be in accordance with Section 58-1-401.

Discipline of Veterinarians

Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-501, unlawful conduct of veterinarians includes, in addition to the definitions in Section 58-1-501:

(1) fraudulently issuing or using any health certificate, inspection certificate, vaccination certificate, test chart, or any other certificate relating to the existence of animal diseases or the sale of animal products for human consumption;

(2) willfully misrepresenting any findings in the inspection of foodstuffs of animal origin; and

(3)  fraudulently misapplying or reporting any intradermal, cutaneous, subcutaneous, serological, or chemical test.

“Unprofessional conduct” includes, in addition to the definitions in Section 58-1-501:

(a) applying unsanitary methods or procedures in the treatment of any animal, contrary to rules adopted by the board and approved by the division;

(b) procuring any fee or recompense on the assurance that a manifestly incurable diseased condition of the body of an animal can be permanently cured;

(c) selling any biologics containing living or dead organisms or products or such organisms, except in a manner which will prevent indiscriminate use of such biologics;

(d) swearing falsely in any testimony or affidavit, relating to, or in the course of, the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery, or dentistry;

(e) willful failure to report any dangerous, infectious, or contagious disease, as required by law;

(f) willful failure to report the results of any medical tests, as required by law, or rule adopted pursuant to law;

(g) violating Chapter 37, Utah Controlled Substances Act;

(h) delegating tasks to unlicensed assistive personnel in violation of standards of the profession and in violation of Subsection (2); and

(i) making any unsubstantiated claim of superiority in training or skill as a veterinarian in the performance of professional services;

However, “Unprofessional conduct” does not include the following:

(i) delegating to a veterinary technologist, while under the indirect supervision of a veterinarian licensed under this chapter, patient care and treatment that requires a technical understanding of veterinary medicine if written or oral instructions are provided to the technologist by the veterinarian;

(ii) delegating to a veterinary technician, while under the direct supervision of a veterinarian licensed under this chapter, patient care and treatment that requires a technical understanding of veterinary medicine if written or oral instructions are provided to the technician by the veterinarian; and

(iii) delegating to a veterinary assistant, under the immediate supervision of a licensed veterinarian, tasks that are consistent with the standards and ethics of the profession.

(b) The delegation of tasks permitted under Subsection (2)(a) does not include:

(i) diagnosing;

(ii) prognosing;

(iii) surgery; or

(iv) prescribing drugs, medicines, or appliances[v].

Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-503, any person who violates the unlawful conduct provisions of Section 58-28-501 is guilty of a third degree felony.  After proceeding pursuant to Title 63G, Chapter 4, Administrative Procedures Act, and Chapter 1, Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Act, the division may impose administrative penalties of up to $10,000 for acts of unprofessional conduct or unlawful conduct under this chapter. Assessment of a penalty under this section does not affect any other action the division is authorized to take regarding a license issued under this chapter. However, a licensee under this chapter may only practice under a veterinarian-client-patient relationship as defined in Section 58-28-102.  A veterinarian-client-patient relationship may not be established solely by telephone or other electronic means[vi].

Furthermore, a licensee must not disclose information about the licensee’s care of an animal to anyone other than the client, as defined in Section 58-28-102, unless:

(a) the client consents to the disclosure in writing;

(b) disclosure to public health officials, animal health or welfare officials, agricultural authorities, or federal, state, or local officials is required, or necessary to protect the animal or to protect public health;

(c) disclosure is required by court order or subpoena; or

(d) the client has placed the veterinarian’s care or treatment of the animal or the nature or extent of injuries to the animal at issue in a civil or criminal proceeding.

(2) A licensee who releases medical records under the provisions of this section is not liable to the client or any other person for the release of the records[vii].

Abandoned Animals

Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-601 provides that any animal which suffers abandonment for a period of five days may be sold or placed in the custody of the nearest humane society or county dog pound if the animal is not picked up within seven days after mailing a notification, by certified mail, to the last known address of the person placing the animal in the veterinarian’s custody. If no humane society or dog pound is located in the county, the animal may be disposed of in a humane manner.

[i] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-201.

[ii] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-301.

[iii] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-302.

[iv] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-305.

[v] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-502.

[vi] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-604.

[vii] Utah Code Ann. § 58-28-605.

Inside Utah Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians