1. Providing Veterinary Services
The North Carolina Veterinary Practice Act prohibits an individual from practicing veterinary medicine in this State without first having obtained a license or temporary permit from the Board. The law provides that if an individual practices, or attempts to practice veterinary medicine without being licensed by the NC Board, constitutes a Class-I criminal law misdemeanor.
The penalty for the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine is set forth in General Statute 90-187.12. Further, such act of unlicensed practice can provide the basis for the Board to file a lawsuit seeking civil injunction against the person(s) in the Superior Court of this State.
NCGS 90-181 Definitions
(6) 'Practice of veterinary medicine' means:
a. To diagnose, treat, correct, change, relieve, 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, other therapeutic/diagnostic substance or technique on any animal.
2. Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)
NC General Statute 90-181(7a) defines the VCPR as follows:
a. The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of the animal and the need for medical treatment, and the client (owner or other caretaker) has agreed to follow the instruction of the veterinarian.
b. There is sufficient knowledge of the animal by the veterinarian to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal. This means that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by virtue of an examination of the animal or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept.
c. The practicing veterinarian is readily available or provides for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy.
NCGS 90-187.8 Discipline of licensees
(b) The Board may impose and collect from a licensee a civil monetary penalty of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation of this Article or a rule adopted under this Article. The amount of the civil penalty, up to the maximum, shall be determined upon a finding of one or more of the following factors:
(18) Selling, dispensing, prescribing, allowing the sale, dispensing or prescription of biologics, controlled substances, drugs or medicines without a veterinarian-client-patient relationship with respect to the sale, dispensing or prescription.
3. Ownership of Veterinary Practices
Only a North Carolina licensed veterinarian can own and operate a veterinary practice facility and deliver services to the public.
Administrative Code .0201 Welfare groups, humane societies or other entities cannot operate and are not able to own veterinary practice facilities in North Carolina. Any advertising or promotions suggesting that someone or entity owns a veterinary practice other than a North Carolina licensed veterinarian, would be considered in violation of the Practice Act.
Welfare groups, humane societies or other entities are not authorized by law to engage in the delivery of veterinary medical services to the public.
Please refer to Practice Facilities if interested in owning or purchasing a practice.
4. Maintaining / Ownership of Patient Records
Veterinarians must maintain patient records for a period of three (3) years per Administrative Code .0207b(12)(B). These records would include written notations, computerized or digital data, radiographs, communication logs and laboratory reports. Clients often contact the Board office seeking help in obtaining a copy of their medical records. The owner of the patient or group of animals is entitled to a copy of the patient or animal's medical records. The veterinarian or practice to which a request for copies is made shall respond within a reasonable time and may charge a reasonable cost relating to time and expense of reproduction of those copies.
In the February 7, 2002 President's Letter, the Board established the policy when answering questions concerning medical records. All documentation that comprises a medical record including written notations, computerized or digital data, radiographs and laboratory reports are the property of the veterinary practice. However, the owner of the patient or group of animals is entitled to a copy of the patient or animal's medical record.
In March, 1996, NC Assistant Attorney General, Kip D. Sturgis, contacted the Board as a result of complaints received by the Attorney General's office concerning veterinarians and prescriptions. Mr. Sturgis summarized his office concerns as follows: The first concern is on medically unjustified restraint of competition in the market for veterinary medicine. The second is directed to the ethics of these anticompetitive practices that not only place the veterinarian's commercial interest in direct conflict with the animal's owner, but may also undermine the veterinarian's professional purpose to promote animal health by foreseeably leading some owner to delay or forego veterinary treatment of their animals. The third is relected by complaints both agencies have received and focuses on the damage these practices have on the public's perception of veterinarians' professionalism. Read Assistant Attorney General K.D. Sturgis' letter.
If a veterinarian, based upon his/her medical opinion, is willing to dispense medication, then the veterinarian must also provide a prescription in place of said medication should the owner request a prescription. If a veterinarian, based upon his/her medical opinion, is not willing to dispense medication, then it would also be appropriate to deny a request for a prescription.
Federal legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate directly involving veterinary prescriptions. The title of this legislation is the Fairness to Pet Owners Act. The House version is HR 3174. The Senate version is S1200.
6. Fees Relating to Veterinary Medicine
Fees are not addressed in the North Carolina Veterinary Practice Act or Adimistrative Code. As such, the Board has no authority to set/regulate fees or the jurisdiction to settle monetary disputes.
7. Abandonment of Animals
G.S. 90-187.7 States that any animal placed in the custody of a licensed veterinarian for treatment, boarding or other care, which shall be unclaimed by its owner or agent for a period of more than ten (10) days after written notice by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested to the owner or his agent at his last known address, shall be deemed to be abandoned and may be turned over to the nearest humane society, dog pound or disposed of as such custodian may deem proper.
The giving of notice to the owner or agent of the owner of such animals by the licensed veterinarian shall relieve the licensed veterinarian and any custodian to whom such animal may be given of any further liability for disposal.
8. Rabies Vaccine Information
Contact the NC Department of Public Health, Epidemiology at (919) 733-3419 - also their after hours EMERGENCY.
Vaccination Requirements and Guidelines
Memorandum from Dr. Carl Williams
Protocol for dogs, cats and ferrets exposed to rabies
NOTE: NC Registered Veterinary Technicians may administer a rabies vaccine under the supervision of a NC licensed veterinarian. Both the technician and the veterinarian should sign the rabies certificate.
9. Heartworm Testing
10. After Hours Emergency Services
The veterinarian who is the owner, as well as the veterinarian who is in charge of the facility, shall provide after-hours emergency service by one or more of the methods listed below.
.0207 Minimum Facility and Practice Standards in Parts (b)(19)(A) through (D) of the NC Administrative Code. If after house emergency services shall be provided other than by the veterinarian who is the owner or who is the veterinarian in charge of the facility, the name, address and telephone numbers of the provider of the after-hours emergency service shall be posted prominently at the facility in areas where this information is likely to be seen by persons comint to the entrances of the facility.
(A) Availability by telephone, pager or answering machine; or
(B) Membership in an after-hours emergency services facility or organization that agrees with the veterinarian to assume the responsibility for this care; or
(C) An agreement for this care with another facility located in the same general community, area or region served by the primary facility and which provides after hours emergency service; or
(D) Notification of the name, address and telephone numbers of an emergency veterinary service facility, open to the public, which provides after hours emergency service, located in the same general community, area or region served by the primary facility.
11. Data Requests
If you are interested in requesting data, please go to our Misc. Requests page for instructions.
12. License Verifications
License verification information for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians is available on our Home Page under QUICK LINKS.
13. Minimum Facility and Practice Standards
SECTION .0207 - The minimum standards for all facilities where veterinary medicine is practiced.
14. Health Certificates
For International and State-to-State, please go to our Useful Links page for contact information located in the 'Veterinarians' Section.
The microchipping procedure must be performed by a veterinarian or a registered veterinary technician (RVT) employed by the veterinarian directly supervised by the veterinarian. The term 'direct supervision' means that the veterinarian is on the premises and readily available to answer questions or assist the employee being supervised. Further, an existing veterinarian-client-patient relationship is not required prior to microchipping being performed by the veterinarian (or by their supervised RVT). A veterinarian-client-patient relationship is established with the performing of the microchipping procedure.
16. What are some examples of programs and services the NC Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Veterinary Division) provide?
- Livestock Phone: (919) 707-3250
- Animal Welfare Section Phone: (919) 707-3280
- Spay & Neuter Program
- FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
- Veterinary Feed Directive