These are the state's veterinary practice laws. Among the provisions include licensing requirements, laws concerning the state veterinary board, veterinary records laws, and the laws governing disciplinary actions for impaired or incompetent practitioners.
§ 54 . Board; power to make by-laws and rules; quorum
§ 54A . Definitions applicable to Secs. 54 to 60
§ 55 . Registration of veterinarians; examinations; certificate; fees; renewal of licenses; revocation
§ 55A . Graduates of non-approved schools; waiver of requirements; rules and regulations
§ 56 . Examinations
§ 56A . Temporary permits; revocation
§ 56B . Prescriptions on hospital or clinic blanks; printing of veterinarian's name required
§ 56C . Out-of-state veterinarians; examination; registration; reciprocity
§ 56D . Schools of veterinary medicine; institutional license
§ 56E . Veterinary students; clinical training; licensing exemption
§ 57 . Register; annual reports; investigation of complaints
§ 58 . Practicing veterinary medicine; definition
§ 58A . Emergency care to animals; exemption from civil liability
§ 58A ½ . Dispensing of compounded drugs to companion animals by veterinarians
§ 58B . Reports of suspected acts of cruelty to animals; veterinarians; immunity from liability
§ 59 . Illegal practice of veterinary medicine; penalty; powers of board; causes for revocation of license
§ 59A . Disposal of abandoned animals; notice
§ 60 . Application of Secs. 54 to 59; emergency advice or service
The board of registration in veterinary medicine, in sections fifty-five to sixty, inclusive, called the board, may make by-laws and rules consistent with law necessary to carry out the provisions of said sections. Three members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, provided, however, that at any meeting concerning the revocation of a license a quorum shall be four.
Amended by St.1958, c. 533, § 3; St.1969, c. 104; St.1974, c. 810, § 4; St.1975, c. 451, § 1.
In sections fifty-four to sixty, inclusive, the following words shall have the following meanings:
"Animal", any animal other than man including wild or domestic fowl, birds, fish or reptiles, living or dead.
"Approved veterinary school", any veterinary college or division of a university or college that offers the degree of doctor of veterinary medicine or its equivalent and which conforms to the standards required for accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the board of veterinary medicine of the commonwealth, or the approving authority.
"Approving authority", (a) Two members from the board of registration in veterinary medicine; (b) One veterinary officer from the division of animal health; and (c) One member representing the Massachusetts Veterinary Association.
"Board", the board of registration in veterinary medicine of the commonwealth.
"Veterinarian", a person who has received a doctors' degree in veterinary medicine from a school of veterinary medicine.
"Veterinary medicine", means and includes veterinary surgery, obstetrics, dentistry, and all other branches or specialties of veterinary medicine.
Added by St.1974, c. 810, § 5. Amended by St.1975, c. 451, § 2; St.1975, c. 706, § 188.
Applications for registration as veterinarians, signed and sworn to by the applicant, shall be made upon blanks furnished by the board. Each applicant who shall furnish the board with satisfactory proof that he is eighteen years of age or over, of good moral character, and a graduate of an approved veterinary school, or who is a graduate of a non-approved veterinary school and obtains a waiver under the provisions of section fifty-five A, shall, upon payment of a fee to be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provisions of section three B of chapter seven, be examined and, if found qualified by the board, shall be registered as a veterinarian and shall receive a certificate thereof, signed by the chairman and secretary. In order to satisfy the proof of the graduation requirement of this section, the board may, in its discretion, accept a letter from the dean of an approved veterinary school which certifies that an applicant has met all of the requirements for graduation and that such applicant shall graduate from said approved veterinary school no later than 210 calendar days after the board's examination. If for any reason the candidate does not graduate within 210 calendar days after the board's examination, a license shall not be issued until proof of graduation is received. An applicant aggrieved by the refusal of the board to approve a school of veterinary medicine under this section shall be entitled to have the reasonableness of such refusal reviewed by a justice of the superior court, whose decision shall be final. An applicant failing to pass an examination satisfactory to the board may be deemed a "Conditional" applicant and may be reexamined only on that portion of the examination failed, upon payment of the established fee for each appearance, at such time and place as the board shall determine. The board may refuse to grant a license to any person who shall have been convicted of a felony, or who shall be addicted to any vice to such a degree as to render him unfit to practice veterinary medicine, and after due notice and hearing may revoke any certificate issued by it and cancel the registration of any veterinarian convicted of a crime in the practice of his profession, and may at any time after the expiration of one year thereafter reissue any certificate so revoked, and register anew any veterinarian whose registration was so cancelled.
Every registered veterinarian shall annually, before March first, pay to the board a license fee to be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section three B of chapter seven, in default of which the board may revoke his license and his authority to practice veterinary medicine thereunder, after a hearing as provided by section eleven; but the payment of said fee at or before the time of hearing, with an additional sum to be determined under the aforementioned chapter seven provision, shall remove the default. A veterinarian seeking license renewal shall present evidence satisfactory to the board of the successful completion of such continuing education as the board shall require by regulation. A veterinarian duly registered and licensed to practice in this commonwealth, whose license has not been revoked, but who shall have temporarily retired from practice or removed from the commonwealth for a period not exceeding five years, and shall have notified the board of such retirement or removal, may register upon paying the lapsed annual license fee and filing with the board his affidavit as to the facts aforesaid. Applications for renewals of licenses hereunder shall be upon forms prescribed by the board, and shall, no less than thirty days prior to March first in each year, be mailed to each veterinarian registered with the board.
The board shall, upon the request of any college, university, or school of veterinary medicine in the commonwealth, inspect said college, university, or school and notify its trustees or other governing body in writing if it is approved by the board for the purposes of this section, or, if not, what steps it must take in order to gain the approval of the board.
Any college, university, or school of veterinary medicine desiring to be approved for the purposes of this section may file with the board a written request for the approval of such college, university, or school of veterinary medicine, and thereupon a public hearing, after due notice, shall be seasonably granted by the board and a written decision made by it within twenty days after the termination of such hearing and the applicant for such approval shall be notified of such decision. A written decision of the board refusing to approve any college, university, or school of veterinary medicine shall not become effective until thirty days after written notice of such decision is given to the college, university, or school of veterinary medicine seeking such approval. Any college, university, or school of veterinary medicine aggrieved by such refusal shall have the right to file a petition in the superior court for Suffolk county to revise or reverse the decision of the board. Notice of the entry of such petition shall be given to the secretary of the board and all proceedings connected therewith shall be according to rules regulating the trial of civil cases without juries. The court shall hear the case and finally determine whether or not such approval shall be granted or revised.
Upon the filing of such a petition within the aforesaid period of thirty days, said decision of the board shall not become effective until a final decree affirming said decision is entered upon the aforesaid petition.
Amended by St.1937, c. 66; St.1939, c. 251, § 1; St.1945, c. 724; St.1951, c. 433, § 1; St.1952, c. 585, § 24; St.1957, c. 492; St.1958, c. 533, § 4; St.1965, c. 46; St.1967, c. 347, § 6; St.1968, c. 538, §§ 1-3; St.1972, c. 684, § 29; St.1973, c. 925, § 21; St.1974, c. 810, § 6; St.1975, c. 451, § 3; St.1980, c. 572, §§ 137, 138; St.1981, c. 576, § 1; St.1983, c. 86; St.2002, c. 355, §§ 1, 2.
The board shall determine the qualifications and educational experience of those applicants for registration who are graduates of a non-approved veterinary school. If the board finds that the applicant meets the minimum requirements as determined for a graduate of an approved veterinary school, the board may waive the requirements of section fifty-five relative to graduation from an approved veterinary school.
If the board finds that said applicant is deficient in qualifications or in the quality of educational experience, the board may require the applicant to fulfill remedial or other requirements that the board, by regulation, may require.
Said board shall make such rules and regulations necessary to enforce the provisions of this section.
Added by St.1981, c. 576, § 2.
Examinations shall be in part in writing, shall be in English, and of a scientific and practical character. They shall include the subjects of anatomy, surgery, physiology, animal parasites, obstetrics, pathology, bacteriology, diagnosis and practice, therapeutics, pharmacology, veterinary dentistry and other subjects thought proper by the board to test the applicants' fitness to practice veterinary medicine.
Amended by St.1958, c. 533, § 5.
The board may issue without examination a temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine in the commonwealth to any person who is a graduate of an approved veterinary school. Such temporary permit may be granted for a period of six months and may be renewed once for a period of six months; provided, however, that said person write the next set of examinations; and provided, further, that said person is employed by and practices his profession under the direct supervision and control of a duly licensed veterinarian practicing in the commonwealth. Such temporary permit may be summarily revoked by a majority vote of the board.
The board may issue with an examination a temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine in the commonwealth to any person who is a graduate of other than an approved veterinary school; provided that said person is employed by and practices his profession under the direct supervision and control of a duly licensed veterinarian practicing in the commonwealth. Such temporary permit may be granted for a period of six months and may also be renewed once for a period of six months and may be summarily revoked by a majority vote of the board.
Added by St.1974, c. 810, § 7. Amended by St.1981, c. 576, § 3; St.1988, c. 148, §§ 1, 2.
Every registered veterinarian who writes a prescription upon a prescription blank of a hospital or clinic shall print or type his name directly below his signature thereon.
Added by St.1973, c. 173, § 4.
Any person who is a licensed or registered veterinarian in another state and who has been engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine for at least five consecutive years, and who presents to the board a copy of his certificate of registration or license, certified or attested under seal by the board of examiners or like board of any other state board whose standards in the opinion of the board are equivalent to the requirements of the commonwealth, may, upon application, accompanied by a fee to be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section three B of chapter seven, be given a practical examination, without examination on the theory of veterinary medicine, by the board, and if he demonstrates to said board his fitness to practice veterinary medicine, be registered as a veterinarian, and shall receive a certificate thereof; provided, that the applicant intends to remove to and reside in the commonwealth; and provided further, that such other state accords similar privilege to veterinarians registered under the laws of the commonwealth and removing to such other state.
Added by St.1975, c. 451, § 4. Amended by St.1980, c. 572, § 139.
The board shall have the authority to grant to any school of veterinary medicine located in the commonwealth an institutional license, upon the payment of an annual fee of twenty-five dollars, under which veterinarians, who are not otherwise licensed as herein provided, may practice veterinary medicine if such practice is conducted in conjunction with their full-time employment by such school. An institutional license shall be renewed yearly and shall be issued and renewed upon the determination by the board that the school meets the recording and reporting requirements contained herein and as may be further defined by rules adopted by the board pursuant to its authority under section fifty-four.
The board shall review the credentials of any person who applies to practice under an institutional license, and if such person is a graduate of a school or college of veterinary medicine accredited or approved in any state or country and is otherwise approved by the board, the board shall then register the name of such approved applicant upon its public record and notify the licensed school of such approval. A licensed school shall annually submit to the board a list of the names of persons who are practicing, or who seek to practice, under its institutional license.
An applicant aggrieved by the refusal of the board to act favorably on his credentials, or a school aggrieved by the refusal of the board to issue or renew an institutional license, shall be entitled to have a review of such action by a justice of the superior court, whose decision shall be final.
The board, after notice and hearing, may, by a vote of the majority of its membership, for any cause set forth in section fifty-nine, revoke or suspend the privilege of a veterinarian to practice under an institutional license.
Added by St.1980, c. 428.
Any veterinary student, enrolled in an accredited school or college of veterinary medicine, who is engaged in clinical training under the direct supervision and control of a veterinarian duly registered under the provisions of section fifty-six D, or under the direct supervision and control of a veterinarian otherwise licensed to practice in the commonwealth and who is duly registered with an accredited school or college of veterinary medicine under its clinical training and externship programs shall be exempt from the veterinary licensing provisions of sections fifty-five to fifty-nine, inclusive.
Added by St.1981, c. 485.
The board shall keep a register of all veterinarians registered by it, which shall be open to public inspection, and shall make an annual report. It shall investigate all complaints of the violation of any provision of section fifty-nine and of section sixty-five, so far as it relates to veterinary medicine, and report the same to the proper prosecuting officers.
HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
2003 Main Volume
St.1903, c. 249, § 6.
St.1906, c. 503, § 3.
Any person shall be regarded as practicing veterinary medicine within the meaning of this section who either directly or indirectly, diagnoses, makes a prognosis, treats, administers, prescribes, operates on, manipulates or applies any drug, biologic, or chemical or any apparatus or appliance for any disease, pain, deformity, defect, injury, wound or physical condition of any animal for the prevention of or to test the presence of any disease, or who cuts any tissue, muscle, organ or structure of any animal for the above described purposes or purpose or for the purpose of altering the natural condition of any animal or for any other purpose, cause or reason whatsoever or who holds himself out as being able, available or legally authorized so to do.
The term "practicing veterinary medicine" does not include:
1. The calling into the commonwealth for consultation of duly licensed or registered veterinarians of any other state with respect to any case under treatment by a veterinarian registered under the provisions of section five. Any specialist in the health or zoological field may be called in for consultation in these special fields by a veterinarian licensed in the commonwealth and may collect a reasonable fee for such consultation.
2. The experimentation and research of a registered physician, dentist, osteopath, pharmacist or veterinarian.
3. The lawful experimentation and research activities conducted at any hospital, laboratory, or educational institution approved by the board, or conducted under the general supervision and control of a registered veterinarian, physician, dentist, or osteopath.
4. The gratuitous giving of aid or relief to an animal in an accident or emergency, provided the person giving the aid or relief does not represent himself as a registered veterinarian.
5. The nursing care to animals in the establishment or facilities of a registered veterinarian under his general supervision, direction and control, by the employees of the veterinarian or the assisting of a veterinarian during the course of any procedure or treatment.
6. The advising with respect to or performance of acts by a person which the board by rule has prescribed as accepted livestock management practices.
7. The performing of veterinary or surgical works or the giving of advice to his neighbors by a person, provided that he does not hold himself out as a registered veterinarian or receive pecuniary consideration.
8. The drawing of blood by animal health inspectors of the division of animal health of the Massachusetts department of food and agriculture or of the animal and plant health inspection service of the United States department of agriculture in connection with the programs to control and eradicate brucellosis in animals; provided, that said animal health inspectors are supervised by the chief veterinary health officer of said division of animal health of the Massachusetts department of food and agriculture and trained by said chief or the area veterinarian in charge of veterinary services of said animal and plant inspection service.
Amended by St.1974, c. 810, § 8; St.1977, c. 132.
Any veterinarian duly registered under the provisions of section fifty-five, or who is a resident of another state or in the District of Columbia and duly registered therein who, in good faith, as a volunteer and without fee, renders emergency care or treatment to an animal other than in the ordinary course of his practice shall not be liable in a suit for damages as a result of his acts or omissions which may occur during such emergency care or treatment, nor shall he be liable to any animal hospital for its expenses if under such emergency conditions he orders an animal hospitalized or causes his admission to such hospital.
Added by St.1973, c. 503. Amended by St.1986, c. 131.
<[ Text of section added by 2016, 133, Sec. 78 effective July 1, 2016. See 2016, 133, Sec. 203.]>
(a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“Companion animal”, a domesticated animal including, but not limited to, fowl, birds, fish or reptiles; provided, however, that “companion animal” shall not include animals intended for consumption or whose products are intended for consumption by humans or other animals.
“Compounded drug”, a drug formulation distributed from a pharmacy that has been prepared, mixed or assembled for use on or for a companion animal to meet the unique medical need of a companion animal as determined by the prescribing veterinarian including, but not limited to, the removal of a dye for medical reasons, a change in strength, the addition of a flavor or a change in dosage, form or delivery mechanism.
(b) A veterinarian may dispense a compounded drug to a companion animal if: (i) the companion animal is a patient within a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, as defined in the principles of veterinary medical ethics established by the American Veterinary Medical Association; (ii) the quantity dispensed does not exceed a 120 hour supply; (iii) the compounded drug is for the treatment of an emergency condition; and (iv) timely access to a compounding pharmacy is not available, as determined by the prescribing veterinarian.
(c) Pharmacists shall label all compounded products for companion animals distributed to a veterinarian for further distribution or sale and shall include: (i) the name and strength of the compounded medication or list of the active ingredients and strengths; (ii) the facility's control number; (iii) an appropriate beyond-use date as determined by the pharmacist in compliance with the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary standards for pharmacy compounding; (iv) the name and address of the pharmacy; and (v) the quantity.
Added by St.2016, c. 133, § 78, eff. July 1, 2016.
A veterinarian who, while in the normal course of business, observes an animal whom such veterinarian knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of animal cruelty prohibited under sections 77 or 94 of chapter 272 shall report said suspected animal cruelty to a police officer or special state police officer appointed under section 57 of chapter 22C.
A veterinarian duly registered under section 55 who reports, in good faith and in the normal course of business, a suspected act of cruelty to animals prohibited under said sections 77 or 94 of chapter 272 to a police officer or special state police officer appointed under said section 57 of said chapter 22C, shall not be liable in a civil or criminal action for reporting such act.
Any veterinarian who fails to report such an act of animal cruelty shall be reported to the board of registration in veterinary medicine.
Added by St.2000, c. 314. Amended by St.2014, c. 293, § 1, eff. Nov. 18, 2014
Any person who, not then being lawfully authorized to practice veterinary medicine and being so registered or exempt from registration, all as defined in the previous section, shall practice or attempt to practice veterinary medicine or who held himself out to the public as a practitioner of veterinary medicine, whether by signs, words, advertisement, listing in directories, the use of the title "doctor" or any abbreviation thereof or any title including "V.S." or by the use of any other means implying a practitioner of veterinary medicine or any of its branches, fraudulently uses any posted degree, diploma, or certificate implying a practitioner of veterinary medicine or any of its branches, or who opens an office or maintains an establishment or facilities for the purpose of or with the intention of practicing veterinary medicine shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days and upon a subsequent conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. Any registered veterinarian or incorporated veterinary hospital or company who or which knowingly employs or permits a person to practice veterinary medicine unless such person is registered, shall be punished by having his license to practice veterinary medicine revoked, or its license to operate a veterinary hospital suspended, as the case may be, and by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than three months, or both.
By majority vote of the entire five members the board may, for any cause set forth in this section, revoke or suspend for a certain time the license of any person to practice veterinary medicine in the commonwealth after notice and hearing.
Cause for which the board may revoke or suspend a license are as follows:
1. The employment of fraud, misrepresentation or deception in obtaining such license.
2. Conviction of a felony, in which case the record of such conviction shall be conclusive evidence.
3. Chronic inebriety or habitual use of drugs.
4. Having professional connection with or lending the use of his name to any illegal practitioner of veterinary medicine and the various branches thereof.
5. Conviction of a violation of any state or federal law, regulating narcotics, or a settlement of a tax liability in connection with such violation, in which case the record of such conviction or settlement, as the case may be, shall be conclusive evidence.
6. Fraud or dishonesty in applying or reporting tuberculin or other biological tests.
7. False or misleading advertising having for its purpose or intent deception or fraud.
8. Conduct reflecting unfavorably on the profession of veterinary medicine.
9. Conviction on a charge of cruelty to animals.
10. Failure of a registered veterinarian to keep his office or hospital and equipment therein in a clean and sanitary condition.
11. Failure of a duly licensed veterinarian to properly supervise a person practicing veterinary medicine under the provisions of section fifty-six A.
Amended by St.1948, c. 224; St.1958, c. 533, § 6; St.1974, c. 810, § 9; St.1975, c. 451, § 5; St.1981, c. 576, § 4.
Any veterinarian may dispose of any animal abandoned in his establishment, provided he shall give notice of his intention to do so to the owner at his last known address by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and has allowed a period of ten days to elapse after the receipt if returned before disposing of such animal.
Added by St.1974, c. 810, § 10.
Sections fifty-four to fifty-nine, inclusive shall not prohibit advice or service, in a case of emergency, by a person other than a registered veterinarian, nor shall they prohibit farmers from rendering services to their neighbors, if they do not hold themselves out as registered veterinarians, nor shall they be held to discriminate against any particular school or system of veterinary medicine. They shall not apply to a commissioned veterinarian of the United States army in the performance of his official duty; nor to a veterinarian from another state who is a legal practitioner in that state, when in actual consultation with a legal practitioner of this commonwealth; nor to any registered pharmacist prescribing gratuitously, if he does not violate section fifty-nine.
Amended by St.1974, c. 810, § 11.