Veterinary News

Animal Cruelty Reporting Regulations Took Effect December 31

A Message from Board President Dr. David Handel 

(Jan. 4, 2019) - Regulations related to animal cruelty reporting for veterinarians took effect December 31, 2018. Read the regulations here. The original law that took effect October 1, 2017 requires veterinarians to make a report to law enforcement when they have reason to believe that an animal they are treating has been subjected to cruelty or animal fighting. These regulations offer guidance on the reporting requirement and confidentiality procedures for reports. 

This law and these regulations have caused a great deal of angst in the veterinary community. I want to assure you that the law and  these regulations are not intended to be "gotcha" regulations. Instead, these requirements are designed only to protect animals who we, as veterinarians, have reason to believe are in an abusive situation. I firmly believe that the vast majority of practitioners would not hesitate to report someone we believed was being intentionally cruel to an animal. These regulations are designed to give some guidance on how to both go about reporting and protecting yourself and your practice.

We understand that veterinarians aren’t always trained to recognize cruelty. We know a broken leg when we see it, but we don’t always know if the injury was inflicted intentionally or not. The Board encourages you to obtain additional training in the recognition of animal cruelty if you do not feel adequately versed in it.

Animal Control officials are the experts at investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty cases. The Board’s website has a list of Animal Control officials in each county who you can call for advice if you are faced with a client whose actions you are unsure about. These are the same people you can call to make an official report. You are not required to investigate and make a determination  yourself if you suspect cruelty, just make the call.

The definition of animal cruelty in these regulations is the same as the definition used in the criminal code. That definition includes (but is not limited to) “Inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal, or unnecessarily failing to provide an animal with . . . necessary veterinary care . . .” 

Several veterinarians submitted comments during the Public Comment Period, asking for clarification of the meaning of “necessary veterinary care.” After much discussion, the Board has opted to leave the phrase as is and to use its discretion, according to common norms and standards and as applied on a case by case basis, when determining whether necessary care was provided. It is difficult to address every possible instance in which necessary care may or may not have been provided, but the Board believes that “necessary care” is closely related to alleviating a pet’s pain and suffering. While the Board, of course, believes responsible pet ownership includes providing vaccinations and regular check-ups, failing to do so is not considered cruelty on its face.

The Board is always open to hearing your comments and thoughts. You can reach the Board at mda.veterinaryboard@maryland.gov or on Twitter @MdVetBoard.

As 2019 begins, I wish all of you a happy and successful year ahead.
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Two Regulations Getting Vets in Trouble!
There are two Code of Maryland regulations that veterinarians are being sanctioned for violating more and more. We urge you to be aware of them.

First: Hospital licenses are not transferable.

A hospital license is issued to the owner of a hospital and is only good for the specific owner who obtained it and for the actual physical building for which the license was issued. If there is any change in the hospital's ownership or location, you need a new license.
  • If you sell your practice, or part of your practice, you need a new license, even if you are remaining as the responsible veterinarian and there are no other personnel changes.
  • If you are opening a brand new hospital, even if it is on the same property, with the same address, you need a new license.
  • If your hospital location changes, but the hospital owner and the hospital’s name stays the same, you need a new license.
  • If you are moving into a new facility, you need a new license, even if your new facility has always been used as a veterinary hospital.

Each time a new license is requested, whether for a change in ownership or change of location, an inspection is required. 

If the facility is brand new or if it has not been inspected in the last 12 months, it must be inspected before it opens - or opens under new ownership. If the facility has been inspected in the last 12 months, it must be inspected within 60 days after it receives a new license. When/if you apply for a new license, be aware that Board inspectors schedule their inspections several weeks out. Apply in plenty of time to get the inspection done before you plan to open.

If you do not get a new license for these changes, you will be operating without a valid license and the owners and/or responsible veterinarian will be subject to sanctions. The longer you operate unlicensed, the higher the fine. For more information. If you have questions, please call the Board office at 410-841-5862.

Second: Keep your Expired Medications Separate from Unexpired Meds

During routine hospital inspections, Board inspectors are finding more and more instances of expired medications being kept among the working stock of drugs. Code of Maryland Regulation 15.14.01.12-3 states:

A. A Veterinarian may not administer expired medications to an animal. 
B. A veterinarian may not remove expiration dates from medications. 
C. Until a veterinarian has disposed of an expired medication, the veterinarian shall package and keep it separate and apart from unexpired medications.

The Board frequently assesses civil penalties against the responsible veterinarian for these violations.  It is an easy infraction to avoid. Assign a technician to check your working stock of drugs every month and pull anything that is expired. Problem solved.

The Veterinary Practice Act and related regulations are on our website ​for easy reference. Please review them often! 
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Investigator Husk Promoted
(November 30, 2018) - The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has promoted its lead inspector Susan Kozlovsky Husk to Assistant Director for Field Operations. In this new role, Ms. Husk will coordinate and oversee all inspections and investigations for both the State Veterinary Board and the Maryland Horse Industry Board. The move is expected to make both Boards more nimble and flexible to deploy resources where they are most needed. Next year, the Board will begin its initial inspections of animal control facilities and private shelters that receive money from the State Spay and Neuter Grant Program (as required by law). This will add about 35 inspections to the work load. 

Ms. Kozlovsky Husk has been with the State Board for five years as an investigator. Prior to joining the Board she worked for over 30 years in the veterinary field as a veterinary technician and practice manager for several veterinary practices. Those practices included small animal practices, a house call practice, and an ambulatory equine and farm animal practice. Additionally, Ms. Kozlovsky Husk worked as a territory manager for a national animal health distribution company. 


New CE Requirements for CDS Permits
(Sept. 21, 2018) - Background: During the 2018 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed HB1453 / SB1223,  Controlled Dangerous Substances Registration – Authorized Providers – Continuing Education.  This bill requires veterinarians to take 2 Continuing Education hours in "prescribing or dispensing" Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) in order to obtain or renew a CDS permits. The bill takes effect October 1, 2018. 

Any veterinarian who applies for an initial CDS permit or who applies to renew a CDS permit on or after October 1, 2018 must first take 2 CEs in prescribing or dispensing CDS. The CEs must be approved by the State Board.  (See below) You will have to attest to taking these CEs when you apply for your CDS permit. 

Note: CDS permits are issued by the Maryland Department of Health, Office of Controlled Substance Administration – not the State Veterinary Board.  Although the State Veterinary Board does not require new licensees to obtain CEs their first year of licensure, the OCSA does require licensees to have these 2 CEs before obtaining a CDS permit. 
 
This is a one-time requirement. If you already have a CDS permit, you only have to take these 2 CEs the first time you renew after October 1, 2018.  These CEs may be used toward your annual CE requirement for licensure.  

Courses that may be used to meet this requirement are below: 
  • Any webinar or CE course pertaining to the prescribing or dispensing of CDS that is RACE Approved* 
  • Any webinar or CE course pertaining to the prescribing or dispensing of CDS for veterinarians that is provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), VetFolio, or VetGirl. Search CDC
  • Any webinar or CE course pertaining to the prescribing or dispensing of CDS that is provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA). 

Other Qualifying Webinars:

Submit a request for approval of other in-person or online courses HERE

Important: The OCSA will audit permit holders for compliance. If you fraudulently obtain a CDS permit by attesting to taking these courses when you did not, you may be subject to fines and penalties from OCSA and the State Board. 

*American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE)








 
 
The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners 
Office: 410-841-5862

Vanessa Orlando 
Executive Director

Tonya Kendrick
Licensing Administrator

Susan Husk
Assistant Director - Field Ops

Media Inquiries: 
Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
410-841-5889