Full Title Name:  Table of Veterinary Reporting Requirement and Immunity Laws

Share |
Rebecca F. Wisch Publish Year:  2015 Place of Publication:  Michigan State University College of Law Primary Citation:  Animal Legal & Historical Center

This table lists the 31 state laws (see below where administrative rules of professional conduct may oblige licensed veterinarians to report) related to the reporting of animal cruelty by veterinarians. Many states such as California , Colorado , Illinois , Minnesota , Oklahoma , and West Virginia place a duty upon state-licensed veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty to the proper authorities described by statute. Usually, this consists of reporting the abuse to local law enforcement agencies. In addition, Arizona and Wisconsin specifically mandate that veterinarians report suspected instances of dogfighting. Other states do not require veterinarians to report animal abuse, but rather allow veterinary professionals to take such action. These voluntary reporting statutes, as seen in states such as Georgia , Maryland , and Maine among others, give veterinarians the authority to break patient-client confidentiality and report abuse. Further, in most states with either a mandatory or voluntary reporting law, a companion immunity provision is also provided. Such an immunity statute protects a veterinarian from any civil liability (and sometimes criminal) arising from the reporting of the abuse. Thus, if a veterinarian reported injuries he or she found consistent with intentional animal abuse to local authorities, he or she could not be sued by the owner of the animal for libel or defamation.

In addition to reporting requirements in state laws, 8 states have administrative provisions that concern reporting of animal cruelty. For example, under Kansas' rules of professional conduct for veterinarians, the failure by a veterinarian to report to proper authorities the cruel or inhumane treatment of animals, if he or she has direct knowledge, is grounds for disciplinary action. Oklahoma has a similar provision in its Rules of Professional Conduct for veterinarians (See Okla. Admin. Code 775:10-5-30(8)). North Dakota includes the following in its list of actions constituting professional misconduct: "Failing to report to law enforcement or humane officers inhumane treatment to animals, including staged animal fights or training events for fights, the veterinarian reasonably believed occurred." ND ADC 87-05-02-01(8). Other states such as Alabama, Maryland, and Virginia also have reporting requirements in their rules of professional responsibility for licensed veterinarians.

Despite the recent surge in reporting laws, some veterinarians and professional organizations hesitate to embrace such laws. Veterinarians have concerns over breaking client confidentiality with the owners of their patients as well as concerns about accurately detecting signs of animal abuse. The premier professional organizations for veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), have both issued policy statements that address reporting of animal abuse by veterinarians. The 2015 AAHA position statement "supports the reporting of suspicions of animal abuse to the appropriate authorities. The Association encourages the adoption of laws mandating veterinary professionals to report suspicions of animal abuse and providing immunity from legal liability when filing such reports in good faith." (read the policy statement). Many animal welfare advocates suggest that a veterinarian's role is critical in both detecting and preventing further abuse.  However, there is limited information as to whether state reporting statutes have increased the prosecution of those who abuse animals under their care.

State    

Who Has Duty

Type of Duty to Report

Immunity Provision

Reporting under Professional/Ethical Rules

Unique Aspects of Law

Alabama

 

Veterinarian    

A veterinarian is obligated to report to the proper authorities any grossly inhumane treatment to animals of which he or she has direct knowledge.

(Grounds for disciplinary action for failure to report)

Ala. Admin. Code r. 930-X-1-.10

 

Arizona

 

 Veterinarian Mandatory Duty

A veterinarian who reasonably suspects or believes abuse, cruelty or neglect or animal fighting shall report to law enforcement within 48-hours after treatment or examination. The report shall include the breed and description of the animal and the name and address of the owner or person who sought the examination or treatment.

A.R.S. § 32-2239

Veterinarian who files a report as provided in this section shall be immune from civil liability with respect to any report made in good faith.

A.R.S. § 32-2239

 

Vet shall also report cases of suspected livestock abuse to AZ Dept. of Ag.

A.R.S. § 32-2239

Arkansas

 

A licensed veterinarian or a person acting at the direction of a licensed veterinarian No Duty

A licensed veterinarian or a person acting at the direction of a licensed veterinarian in Arkansas is:

 (1) Held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decision made or service rendered in conjunction with Subchapter 1: Cruelty to Animals; and

 (2) Immune from suit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

(b) A veterinarian or person acting at the direction of a licensed veterinarian who participates or reports in bad faith or with malice is not protected under this subchapter.

A.C.A. § 5-62-109

   

 California

 

 

Licensee under the chapter Mandatory Duty

Reasonable cause to believe that a dog has been injured or killed through participation in a staged animal fight must promptly report to law enforcement.

West's Ann.Cal.Bus. & Prof.Code §  4830.5.

Reasonable cause to believe an animal has been a victim of animal abuse must promptly report to law enforcement

 West's Ann.Cal.Bus. & Prof.Code §  4830.7

No licensee shall incur any civil liability as a result of making any report.

West's Ann.Cal.Bus. & Prof.Code §  4830.5. & West's Ann.Cal.Bus. & Prof.Code §  4830.7

   

Colorado

 

 

 

Immunity provision for any person reporting cruelty and separate licensed vet immunity law Mandatory Duty for Vets

Reasonable cause to know or suspect that the animal has been subjected to cruelty or animal fighting shall report to local law enforcement or bureau of animal protection.

No time frame listed

C.R.S.A.§ 12-64-121

A licensed veterinarian who in good faith reports a suspected incident shall be immune from liability in any civil or criminal action brought against the veterinarian for reporting the incident.

C.R.S.A.§ 12-64-121 & C.R.S.A. § 18-9-209

  Good faith is presumed on the part of veterinarian.

 Florida

 

Licensed veterinarian No Duty

Vet shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this section; immune from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

West's F.S.A. 828.12

   

 Georgia

 

Licensed accredited veterinarian or veterinary technician Voluntary Reporting

Reasonable cause to believe that an animal has been subjected to animal cruelty or dog fighting may make or cause to be made a report of such violation.

Ga. Code Ann 4-11-17

Any person participating in the making of a report shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability provided such participation is made in good faith.

Ga. Code Ann 4-11-17

  Specifically includes veterinary technicians in reporting and immunity law

Idaho

 

Licensed veterinarian No Duty

A vet shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this chapter. Such a veterinarian is protected from a lawsuit for his part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

I.C. 25-3504

  A veterinarian who participates or reports in bad faith or with malice shall not be protected under the provisions of this section.

 Illinois

 

Any veterinarian in this State Mandatory Duty

Observes or is presented with an animal or animals for the treatment of aggravated cruelty must file a report with the Department

510 ILCS 70/3.07

Any veterinarian who in good faith makes a report, has immunity from any liability, civil, criminal, or otherwise, that may result from his or her actions.

510 ILCS 70/3.07

  The report must furnish the owner's name, the date of receipt of the animal or animals and any treatment administered, and a description of the animal or animals involved, including a microchip number.

Good faith of the veterinarian is presumed.

Indiana

 

A veterinarian or registered veterinary technician  No Duty

Who reports in good faith and in the normal course of business a case of suspected animal cruelty to a law enforcement official is immune from civil or criminal liability from reporting the incident.

IC 25-38.1-4-8.5

   

Kansas

 

 

 

Licensed veterinarian  

The owner or custodian of an animal placed for adoption or killed shall not be entitled to recover damages for the placement or killing of such animal unless the owner proves that such placement or killing was unwarranted.

K.S.A.  21-6412

&

K.S.A. 47-839

Mandatory professional duty to report by veterinarians (grounds for disciplinary action for failure to report)

It is considered "unprofessional conduct" and shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action for a licensed veterinarian to fail to report "to the proper authorities cruel or inhumane treatment to animals, if the veterinarian has direct knowledge of the cruel or inhumane treatment."

KS ADC 70-8-1(p)

Privilege for confidentiality of client’s records waived if reporting cruel or inhumane treatment of animal to federal, state, or local governmental agencies.

Maine

 

A veterinarian licensed in state Voluntary Reporting

Veterinarian who has reasonable cause to suspect that an animal is the subject of cruelty or neglect in violation may report the suspected violation.

7 M.R.S.A. § 4018

A veterinarian reporting or testifying under this section is immune from criminal or civil liability or professional disciplinary action that might otherwise result from these actions.

7 M.R.S.A. § 4018

   

Maryland

 

 

 

 

Veterinarian Voluntary Reporting

Statute that provides that Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners shall adopt regulations that encourage veterinarians to report suspected cruelty to law enforcement.

MD AGRIC § 2-304 

A veterinary practitioner shall be immune from any civil liability that results from a report in good faith to a local law enforcement or county animal control agency under this subsection.

MD AGRIC § 2-304 

A veterinarian should promptly report the suspected instance of cruelty, including animal fighting, to the appropriate local law enforcement or county animal control agency.

COMAR 15.14.15.03

 

Massachusetts

 

Veterinarian duly registered

Mandatory  Duty

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 shall report said suspected animal cruelty to a police officer or special state police officer.

Any veterinarian who fails to report such an act of animal cruelty shall be reported to the board of registration in veterinary medicine.

M.G.L.A 112 § 58B

Veterinarian in good faith and in the normal course of business reports a suspected act of cruelty to animals not liable in a civil or criminal action for reporting such act.

M.G.L.A 112 § 58B

   

Michigan

 

Veterinarian or veterinary technician No Duty

In good faith reports that an animal that the veterinarian or veterinary technician knows or reasonably believes to be abandoned, neglected, or abused is immune from civil or criminal liability for making the report.

MC.L.A. 333.18827

  Immunity provision covers abandonment, neglect, and abuse

Minnesota

 

 

 

 

Veterinarian Mandatory Duty

A veterinarian must report known or suspected cases of abuse, cruelty, or neglect to peace officers and humane agents.

M.S.A. 346.36 -  346.37

 

Failing to report to law enforcement or humane officers inhumane treatment to animals, including staged animal fights or training for fights, of which the veterinarian has direct knowledge can result in disciplinary actions.

MN ADC 9100.0700

 

Mississippi

 

Any veterinarian licensed in this state No Duty

Reports, in good faith and in the normal course of business, a suspected incident of animal cruelty to the proper authorities shall be immune from liability in any civil or criminal action brought against the veterinarian for reporting the incident.

Miss Code Ann. § 73-39-87 

   

Nebraska

 

Any animal health care professional while acting in official capacity in scope of employment Mandatory Duty

Observes or is involved in an incident that leads him or her to suspect that an animal has been abandoned, cruelly neglected, or cruelly mistreated shall report such incident to an entity that investigates in the jurisdiction.

Neb. Rev. St. 28-1020 

Any person making a report is immune from liability except for false statements of fact made with malicious intent.

Neb. Rev. St. 28-1020 

  The law impose a duty to report, but not a duty to investigate:

"Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose a duty to investigate observed or reasonably suspected."

Nevada

 

A person

Voluntary Duty

A person may report an act of cruelty against an animal to any peace officer, officer of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or animal control officer.

Any person, law enforcement agency, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or animal control agency that willfully releases data or information concerning the identity of a person who made a report, except for the purposes of a criminal investigation or prosecution, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

N.R.S. 574.053

   

New Hampshire

 

A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state No Duty

Held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made for services rendered under the provisions of this section. Veterinarian under this paragraph protected from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

N.H. Rev. Stat. 644:8

   

New York

 

 Veterinarian Voluntary Reporting

When a veterinarian reasonably and in good faith suspects that a companion animal's injury, illness or condition is the result of animal cruelty, the veterinarian may report the incident and disclose records concerning the companion animal's condition.

McKinney's Education Law § 6714

A veterinarian who reasonably and in good faith reports or discloses records shall be immune from liability in the form of damages in any civil or criminal proceeding on account of such reporting or disclosure.

McKinney's Education Law § 6714

   

North Carolina

 

Any veterinarian licensed in this State Implied Voluntary Reporting

A failure by a veterinarian to make a report of animal cruelty shall not constitute grounds for disciplinary action under G.S. 90-187.8.

N.C.G.S.A. § 14-360.1

Reasonable cause to believe that an animal has been the subject of animal cruelty and who makes a report of animal cruelty, or who participates in any investigation or testifies shall be immune from civil liability, criminal liability, and liability from professional disciplinary action.

N.C.G.S.A. § 14-360.1

   

Shall not be in breach of any veterinarian-patient confidentiality, unless the veterinarian acted in bad faith or with a malicious purpose.

Rebuttable presumption that the veterinarian acted in good faith.

North Dakota

 

 

 

 

Any sheriff, police officer, licensed veterinarian, investigator, or person who has custody of an animal under this chapter and who is acting in an official or professional capacity No Duty

Provision only relates when veterinarian has taken custody of the animal

NDCC 36-21.1-14

Makes a good-faith effort to comply with this chapter is immune from any civil or criminal liability for acts taken or omitted while attempting to comply with this chapter.

NDCC 36-21.1-14

Failing to report to law enforcement or humane officers inhumane treatment to animals the veterinarian reasonably believed occurred can constitute unprofessional conduct and lead to disqualifying a license.

NDAC 87-05-02-01

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 Veterinarian Mandatory Duty

A veterinarian shall report suspected cases of animal abuse to a local law enforcement agency in the county where the veterinarian is practicing within 24 hours of examination or treatment which the veterinarian reasonably suspects and believes has been abused.

21 Okl. St. Ann. § 1680.3

A veterinarian who files a report as provided in this section shall be immune from civil liability with respect to any report made in good faith.

21 Okl. St. Ann. § 1680.3

Failing to report to the proper authorities cruel or inhumane treatment to animals by any person, when the veterinarian has direct knowledge of the cruel or inhumane treatment, shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action by the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Okla. Admin. Code 775:10-5-30

Report must be made within 24 hours of examination

The report shall contain the breed and description of the animal together with the name and address of the owner.

Oregon

 

A veterinarian or veterinary technician for immunity

Veterinarian for duty

Mandatory duty for veterinarians to report aggravated cruelty.

 

Voluntary duty for veterinarians and technicians to report abandonment, neglect, or abuse. Licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians may report.

O.R.S. § 686.442

&

O.R.S. § 686.445

Licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians may report to peace officers, animal control officers or officers of private organizations devoted to humane treatment of animals any animal that the veterinarian or veterinary technician knows or reasonably believes to be abandoned, neglected or abused. Any veterinarian or veterinary technician making a report under this section is immune from any civil or criminal liability by reason of making the report.

O.R.S. § 686.442

&

O.R.S. § 686.445

  Veterinarians licensed and practicing in Oregon shall report to the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, in a form established by the dean, incidences of treating animals purported to have been injured by a trapping device.

Pennsylvania

 

A veterinarian

 

 

Veterinarians must report repeated acts of negligence or animal abuse by a professional colleague.

49 Pa. Code § 31.21

 

Rhode Island

 

Any Rhode Island licensed veterinarian  No Duty

Shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability arising out of any reports, either oral or written concerning any animal that the veterinarian knows or reasonably believed to be abandoned, neglected, or abused, and shall be immune from suit by reason of making the report.

Gen. Laws 1956 4-1-37

  Veterinarian who participates or reports in bad faith or with malice shall not be protected under the provisions of this section

Texas

 

A veterinarian  No Duty

A veterinarian who in good faith and in the normal course of business reports to the appropriate governmental entity a suspected incident of animal cruelty is immune from liability in a civil or criminal action brought against the veterinarian for reporting the incident.

V.T.C.A., Occupations Code § 801.3585

   

Utah

 

A licensed veterinarian No Duty

In good faith and in the normal course of business, reports a suspected case of animal cruelty to law enforcement or the proper authorities is immune from liability in any civil or criminal action brought against the veterinarian for reporting the suspected cruelty.

U.C.A., 1953 § 58-28-602

   

Virginia

 

 

 

 

Veterinarian  No Duty

Immunity from civil or criminal liability or administrative penalty/sanction for providing records or information or testifying in cases of suspected cruelty unless done in bad faith or with malicious purpose.

VA Code Ann. § 54.1-3812.1


Failing to report suspected animal cruelty to the appropriate authorities is considered unprofessional conduct.

(May result in a refusal to grant or renew a license; or may result in a suspension or revocation of a license).

18 VAC 150-20-140

Includes administrative penalty in immunity provision

Vermont

 

Veterinarian licensed to practice in this state No Duty No monetary liability/no cause of action for damages shall arise against, a veterinarian who, in good faith and in the normal course of practice, reports suspected cases of cruelty to animals, to any humane officer or local board of health officer or agent.

Also immunity for accompanying a humane officer.

26 V.S.A. § 2404

  Immunity limited to "monetary damages" in the statute

Washington

 

A licensed Washington veterinarian No Duty

A veterinarian lawfully licensed in this state to practice veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry who reports, in good faith and in the normal course of business, a suspected incident of animal cruelty that is punishable under this chapter to the proper authorities is immune from liability in any civil or criminal action brought against such veterinarian for reporting the suspected incident.

West's RCWA 16.52.0001

   

Wisconsin

 

Veterinarian  Mandatory Duty to Report Animal Fighting

Any veterinarian who has reason to believe that an animal has been in a fight shall report the matter to the local humane officer or to a local law enforcement agency. The report shall be in writing and shall include a description and the location of the animal, any injuries suffered by the animal and the name and address of the owner or person in charge of the animal, if known.

WSA 173.12

     

West Virginia

 

Licensed veterinarian

(also the right of any other person to voluntarily report)

Mandatory Duty

Duty of any licensed veterinarian and the right of any other person to report to a humane officer any animal found, reasonably known or believed to be abandoned, neglected or cruelly treated.

W. Va. Code, § 7-10-4a

Such veterinarian or other person may not be subject to any civil or criminal liability as a result of such reporting.

W. Va. Code, § 7-10-4a

  Duty and immunity provision covers animals that have been abandoned, neglected, or cruelly treated
Share |