A recent survey out of California reveals some alarming statistics about the breadth and scope of the illegal practice of veterinary medicine. The survey, conducted by the California Veterinary Medical Association, gathered statistics on unlicensed activity from all CVMA member and nonmember veterinarians, as well as registered veterinary technicians. The responses, according to the CVMA, “clearly outlined the extent of the illegal practice of veterinary medicine in all practice types and throughout every corner of the state of California. Close to 1,200 respondents were aware of unlicensed activity and over 300 had treated animals that had been harmed by an unlicensed person.”
These statistics – and the sad stories behind them – should concern all of us. In response to increasing challenges to veterinarians’ scope of practice – and in an effort to protect the health of animals – the AVMA has developed a form that allows veterinarians and others to provide us with a report when they witness an incident where unauthorized veterinary medicine by a nonveterinarian may be harmful to animals.
The information collected will be used to provide cumulative, quantitative data to legislative and regulatory bodies, an important dataset since these decision-makers are often called upon to make decisions regarding the practice of veterinary medicine. Please keep in mind, however, that the AVMA is not a regulatory agency, and we have no authority to investigate or discipline individuals for possible unlicensed practice. We do encourage those reporting the information with us to also share it with the appropriate veterinary licensing board or law enforcement agencies in their state.