CHAPTER 178

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 33, TITLE 24, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO THE PRACTICE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE.

WHEREAS, this act is promulgated as an exercise of the police powers of the State of Delaware to promote the public health, safety, and welfare by safeguarding the people of this state against incompetent, dishonest or unprincipled practitioners of veterinary medicine; and

WHEREAS, the right to practice veterinary medicine is a privilege conferred by legislative grant to persons possessed of the personal and professional qualifications specified in this act; and

WHEREAS, it is deemed wise and expedient to revise the present enactments relating to veterinary medicine;

NOW, THEREFORE;

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Chapter 33, Title 24, Delaware Code, is hereby amended by striking said Chapter in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new chapter to read as follows:

CHAPTER 33. VETERINARIANS

§ 3301. Title

This act shall be known as the Delaware Veterinary Practice Act.

§ 3302. Definitions

When used in this act these words and phrases shall be defined as follows:

(1) "Animal" means any animal other than man and includes fowl, birds, fish, and reptiles, wild or domestic, living or dead.

(2) "Veterinary medicine" includes veterinary surgery, obstetrics, dentistry, and all other branches or specialties of veterinary medicine.

(3) "Practice of veterinary medicine" means:

(a) to diagnose, treat, correct, change, relieve, or prevent animal disease, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical or mental conditions; including the prescription or administration of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, application, anesthetic, or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance or technique, for testing for pregnancy, or for correcting sterility, or infertility, or to render advice or recommendation with regard to any of the above.

(b) to represent directly or indirectly, publicly or privately, an ability and willingness to do any act described in subsection (a).

(c) to use any title, words, abbreviation, or letters in a manner or under circumstances which induce the belief that the person using them is qualified to do any act described in subsection (a), except where such person is a veterinarian.

(4) "Veterinarian" means a person who has received a doctor's degree in veterinary medicine from a school of veterinary medicine.

(5) "Licensed veterinary medicine" means any veterinary college or division of a university or college that offers the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or its equivalent and that conforms to the standards required for accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

(7) "person" means any individual, firm, partnership, association, joint venture, cooperative and corporation, or any other group or combination acting in concert; and whether or not acting as a principal, trustee, fiduciary, receiver, or as any other kind of legal or personal representative, or as the successor in interest, assignee, agent, factor, servant, employee, directors, officer, or any other representative of such person.

(8) "Board" means the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

§ 3303. License requirement and exceptions

No person may practice veterinary medicine in the state who is not a licensed veterinarian or the holder of a valid temporary permit issued by the board. This act shall not be construed to prohibit:

(1) An employee of the federal, state, or local government performing his official duties.

(2) A person who is a regular student in a veterinary school performing duties or actions assigned by his instructors, or working under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian during the school vacation period.

(0) A person advising with respect to or performing acts which the board rule has or has not prescribed as accepted livestock management practices.

(1) A veterinarian regularly licensed in another state consulting with a licensed veterinarian in this state.

(2) Any merchant or manufacturer selling at his regular place of business medicines, feed, appliances, or other products used in the prevention or treatment of animal diseases.

(3) The owner of an animal and the owner's employee caring for and treating the animal belonging to such owner, except where the ownership of the animal was transferred for purposes of circumventing this act.

(4) A member of the faculty of a veterinary school performing his regular functions, or a person lecturing, or giving instructions or demonstrations at a veterinary school or in connection with a continuing education course or seminar.

(5) Any person selling or applying any pesticide, insecticide, or herbicide.

(6) Any person engaging in bona fide scientific research which reasonably requires experimentation involving animals.

§ 3304. Board of Veterinary medicine

(1) A board of veterinary medicine shall be appointed by the governor, which shall consist of five (5) members each appointed for a term of five (5) years or until his successor is appointed, except that the terms of the first appointees may be for shorter periods to permit a staggering of terms whereby one term expires each year. Members of the veterinary board appointed under the chapter which this act replaces may continue as members of the board until the expiration of the term for which they were appointed. Whenever the occasion arises for an appointment, under this section, the state veterinary medical association may nominate three (3) or more qualified persons and forward the nominations to the governor at least thirty (30) days before the date set for the appointment. The governor may appoint one (1) of the persons so nominated. Vacancies due to death, resignation, or removal shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term in the same manner as regular appointments. No person shall serve two (2) consecutive five (5) year terms, but a person appointed for a term of less than five (5) years may succeed himself.

A person shall be qualified to serve as a member of the board if he is a graduate of a veterinary school, a resident of this state, and has been licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state for the past five (5) years preceding the time of his appointment. No person may serve on the board who is, or was during the two (2) years preceding his appointment, a member of the faculty, trustees, or advisory board of a veterinary school.

Each member of the board shall be paid Twenty-Five Dollars ($25.00) for each day or substantial portion thereof he is engaged in the work of the board and not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per annum for any member of the board, in addition to such reimbursement for travel and other expenses as is normally allowed to state employees.

Any member of the board may be removed by the governor, after a hearing by the board, determines cause for removal.

(2) The board shall meet at least once each year at the time and place fixed by rule of the board. Other necessary meetings may be called by the president of the board by giving notice as may be required by rule. Except as may otherwise be provided, a majority of the board constitutes a quorum. Meetings shall be open and public except that the board may meet in closed session to prepare, approve, administer, or grade examinations, or to deliberate the qualification of an applicant for license or the disposition of a proceeding to discipline a licensed veterinarian.

(3) At its annual meeting the board shall organize by electing a president, a secretary-treasurer, and such other officers as may be prescribed by rule. Officers of the board serve for terms of one (1) year and until a successor is elected, without limitation on the number of terms an officer may serve. The president shall serve as chairman of board meetings.

The duties of the secretary-treasurer shall include carrying on the correspondence of the board, keeping permanent accounts and records of all receipts and disbursements by the board and of all board proceedings, including the disposition of all applications for license, and keeping a register of all persons currently licensed by the board. All board records shall be open to public inspection during regular office hours. The secretary-treasurer shall give a surety bond to the board in such sum as the board may require by rule, as cost of such bond to be paid by the board.

At the end of each fiscal year the president and secretary-treasurer shall submit to the Budget Commission, at its stated meetings, the Board's request for necessary appropriations for inclusion in the Budget Bill for the ensuing fiscal year. It shall also submit to the Governor a report on the transactions of the board, including its proposed budget and an account of monies received and disbursed.

(4) The board shall have the power to:

(a) Examine and determine the qualifications and fitness of applicants for a license to practice veterinary medicine in the state.

(b) Issue, renew, deny, suspend, or revoke licenses and temporary permits to practice veterinary medicine in the state or otherwise discipline licensed veterinarians adopted thereunder.

(c) Conduct investigations for the purpose of discovering violations of this act or grounds for disciplining licensed veterinarians.

(d) Hold hearings on all matters properly brought before the board, and in connection thereto to administer oaths, receive evidence, make the necessary determinations, and enter orders consistent with the findings. The board may require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of papers, records or other documentary evidence and commission depositions. The board may designate one or more of its members to serve as its hearing officer.

(e) Appoint from its own membership one or more members to act as representatives of the board at any meeting within or without the state where such representation is deemed desirable.

(f) Bring proceedings in the courts for the enforcement of this act or any regulations made pursuant thereto.

(g) Adopt, amend, or repeal all rules necessary for its government and all regulations necessary to carry into effect the provision of this act, including the establishment and publication of standards of professional conduct for the practice of veterinary medicine.

The powers enumerated above are granted for the purpose of enabling the board to effectively supervise the practice of veterinary medicine and are to be construed liberally to accomplish this objective.

§ 3305. Status of persons previously licensed

Any person holding a valid license or temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine in this state on the date this act becomes effective shall be recognize as a licensed veterinarian and shall be entitled to retain this status so long as he complies with the provisions of this act, including annual renewal of the license.

§ 3306. Application for license; qualifications

Any person desiring a license to practice veterinary medicine in this state shall make written application to the board. The application shall show that the applicant is twenty-one (21) years of age or more, a citizen of the United States or any applicant for citizenship, a graduate of a veterinary school, a person of good moral character, and such other information and proof as the board may from time to time require by rule. The application shall be accompanied by a fee in the amount of Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00).

If the board determines that the applicant possesses the proper qualifications, it shall admit the applicant to the next examination, or if the applicant is eligible for a license without examination under Section 3308, the board may forthwith grant him a license. If an applicant is found not qualified to take the examination or for a license without examination, the secretary-treasurer of the board shall immediately notify the applicant in writing of such finding and the grounds therefor. An applicant found unqualified may require a hearing on the question of his qualification under the procedure set forth in Section 3313. Any applicant who is found not qualified shall be allowed the return of his application fee.

§ 3307. Examinations

The board shall hold at least one examination during each year and may hold such additional examinations as are necessary. The secretary-treasurer shall give public notice of the time and place for each examination at least one hundred twenty (120) days in advance of the date set for the examination. A person desiring to take an examination shall make application at least sixty (60) days before the date of the examination.

The preparation, administration, and grading of examinations shall be governed by rules prescribed by the board. Examinations shall be designed to test the examinee's knowledge of and proficiency in the subjects and techniques commonly taught in veterinary schools. To pass the examination, the examinee must demonstrate scientific and practical knowledge sufficient to prove himself a competent person to practice veterinary medicine in the judgment of the board. All examinees shall be tested by a written examination, supplemented by such oral interviews and practical demonstrations as the board may deem necessary. The board may adopt and use the examination prepared by the National Board of Veterinary Examiners.

After each examination the secretary-treasurer shall notify each examinee of the result of his examination, and the board shall issue licenses to the persons successfully completing the examination. The secretary-treasurer shall record the new licenses and issue a certificate of registration to the new licensees. Any person failing an examination shall be admitted to any subsequent examination on payment of the application fee.

§ 3308. License without examination

The board may issue a license without a written examination to a qualified applicant who furnishes satisfactory proof that he is a graduate of a veterinary school and who:

(1) Has for the five (5) years next prior to filing his application been a practicing veterinarian licensed in a state, territory, or district of the United States having license requirements, at the time the applicant was first licensed, which were substantially equivalent to the requirements of this act; or

(2) Has within the three (3) years next prior to filing his application successfully completed the examination conducted by the National Board of Veterinary Examiners.

At its discretion, the board may orally or practically examine any person qualifying for licensing under this section.

§ 3309. Temporary permit

The board may issue without examination a temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine in this state:

(1) To a qualified applicant for license pending examination, provided that such temporary permit shall expire the day after the notice of results of the first examination given after the permit is issued. No temporary permit may be issued to any applicant who has previously failed the examination in this state or in any other state, territory, or district of the United States, or a foreign country.

(2) To a nonresident veterinarian validly licensed in another state, territory, or district of the United States or a foreign country who pays a fee in the sum of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00), provided that such temporary permit shall be issued for a period of not more than sixty (60) days and that no more than one permit shall be issued to a person during each calendar year.

A temporary permit may be summarily revoked by majority vote of the board without a hearing.

§ 3310. License renewal

All licenses shall expire annually on December 31 of each year but may be renewed by registration with the board and upon payment of the annual license fee established and published by the State Tax Department. On December 1 of each year, the secretary-treasurer shall mail a notice to each licensed veterinarian that his license will expire on December 31 and provide him with a form for re-registration. The secretary-treasurer shall issue a new certificate of registration to all persons registering under this act.

Any person who shall practice veterinary medicine after the expiration of his license and willfully or by neglect fail to renew such license shall be practicing in violation of this act. Provided that any person may renew an expired license within five (5) years of the date of its expiration by making written application for renewal. After five (5) years have elapsed since the date of the expiration, a license may not be renewed, but the holder must make application for a new license and take the license examination.

§ 3311. Discipline of licensees

Upon sworn written complaint by any person the board may, after a fair hearing and by a concurrence of four (4) members, revoke or suspend for a certain time the license of, or otherwise discipline any licensed veterinarian for any of the following reasons:

(1) The employment of fraud, misrepresentation, or deception in obtaining a license.

(2) An adjudication of insanity.

(3) Chronic inebriety or habitual use of drugs.

(4) The use of advertising or solicitation which is false, misleading, or is otherwise deemed unprofessional under regulations adopted by the board.

(5) Conviction of a felony or other public offense involving moral turpitude.

(6) Incompetence, gross negligence, or other malpractice in the practice of veterinary medicine.

(7) Having professional association with or employing any person practicing veterinary medicine unlawfully.

(8) Fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any test for disease in animals.

(9) Failure to keep veterinary premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition.

(0) Failure to report, as required by law, or making false report of, any contagious or infectious disease.

(1) Dishonesty or gross negligence in the inspection of foodstuffs or the issuance of health or inspection certificates.

(2) Cruelty to animals.

(3) Revocation of a license to practice veterinary medicine by another state, territory, or district of the United States on grounds other than nonpayment of registration fee.

(4) Unprofessional conduct as defined in regulations adopted by the board.

§ 3312. Hearing procedure

A hearing shall be held no sooner than twenty (20) days after written notice to a licensed veterinarian of a complaint against him under Section 3311 or, in the case of a person whose application license is denied, no sooner than ten (10) days after receipt by the board of a written request for a hearing. Notice of the time and place of the hearing, along with a copy of the complaint filed, shall be served on a licensee in the same manner required for original service of process in a civil suit.

The applicant or licensee shall have the right to be heard in person and by counsel, the right to have subpoenaed the attendance of witnesses in his behalf, and the right to cross-examine witnesses appearing against him. Strict rules of evidence shall not apply. The board shall provide a stenographer to take down the testimony and shall preserve a full record of the proceeding. A transcript of the record may be purchased by any person interested in such hearing on payment to the board of the cost of preparing such transcript.

The board shall notify the applicant or licensee of its decision in writing ten (10) days after the conclusion of the hearing. The secretary-treasurer in all cases of suspension or revocation shall enter the fact on the register. Any person whose license is suspended or revoked shall be deemed an unlicensed person for purposes of this act.

The fees and expenses allowed witnesses and officers shall be paid by the board and shall be the same as prescribed by law in civil cases in the Superior Court of this state.

§ 3313. Appeal

Any party aggrieved by a decision of the board may appeal the matter to a court of general jurisdiction within ninety (90) days after receipt of notice of the board's final determination. Appeals shall be taken by filing the action with the court and serving upon the secretary-treasurer of the board written notice of the appeal, stating the grounds thereof. The court shall review the decision of the board as it would the decision of an inferior court.

§ 3314. Reinstatement

Any person whose license is suspended or revoked may, at the discretion of the board, be re-licensed or reinstated at any time without an examination by majority vote of the board on written application made to the board showing cause justifying re-licensing or reinstatement.

§ 3315. Enforcement

(1) Any person who shall practice veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned not more than ninety (90) days, or both fined and imprisoned; provided that each act of such unlawful practice shall constitute a distinct and separate offense.

(2) No person who shall practice veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit may receive any compensation for services so rendered.

(3) The board or any citizen of this state may bring an action to enjoin any person from practicing veterinary medicine without a currently valid license or temporary permit. If the court finds that the person is violating, or is threatening to violate, this act it shall within its discretion enter an injunction restraining him from such unlawful acts.

(4) The successful maintenance of an action based on any one of the remedies set forth in this section shall in no way prejudice the prosecution of an action based on any other of the remedies.

§ 3316. Severability

If any part of this act is held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect.

§ 3317. Fee and appropriations

Any sums collected by the board from any source whatever and sums appropriated to it but not expended during any given fiscal year, shall be forwarded to and revert to the General Fund of the State of Delaware.

§ 3318. Effective date

This act shall become effective upon approval of the Governor.

This act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

Approved June 26, 1969.