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Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Oklahoma State Board Would Make Veterinary vs Husbandry Decisions for Professional Practices

There have probably been simpler times to be in the animal care field. Now you not only have to know what you're doing, but if you can legally do it.
As states continue to grapple with definitions of what the practice of veterinary medicine actually entails compared to the routine practice of animal husbandry, national attention turns again to the state of Oklahoma, which was recently wrenched by a battle over whether floating teeth and other aspects of what has come to be known as equine dentistry should or could legally be done by non-veterinarians in the state.  That fight spilled over to other routine practices, particularly related to animal reproduction, that are performed at livestock facilities in the state.

It was a short-lived victory for ranchers who don't want to have to hire veterinarians for routine artificial insemination procedures, or for non-veterinarian professionals in the state who wanted the assurance that they were performing their work legally; the governor quickly signed emergency rules proposed by the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to prevent non-veterinarians from performing some tasks.

This audio report from the Oklahoma Farm Report summarizes steps that led up to this week's action in the Oklahoma legislature.

To the state lawmakers and vet board's credit, a compromise has been put forward in the form of House Bill 1310, which would create a new board, tentatively called the Animal Technology Advisory Committee, made up of three veterinarians and three non-veterinarians, and chaired by a non-voting veterinarian. This board would examine procedures and decide whether they fall under the practice of veterinary medicine or animal husbandry.

HB 1310 passed out of committee yesterday and now is headed to a vote by the entire legislature.

The legislature has not made the text of HB 1310 available to the public on their web site yet.

The composition of state veterinary boards varies from state to state. In some states, the board includes non-veterinary members. In Oklahoma and Florida, five of six members are listed as veterinarians; in Ohio, four of six; in Massachusetts, four of four; in California, four of eight.

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