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The definition of a veterinarian is a person that is authorized to practice veterinary medicine. The person is licensed to diagnose, treat, as well as prevent animal diseases. To become a veterinarian, one must have studied in the field and obtained the requirements or skills from a recognized university in the country. The state of California prohibits a person from practicing veterinary medicine without the proper qualifications or professional license as stipulated by the law. A person that practices veterinary medicine is guilty of violating the law and can be prosecuted for it. Although the process of getting a professional license can be complicated, a license attorney can help you obtain it and fight any charges brought against you concerning your license. At San Diego License Attorney, we have years of experience and can help you with any suspension or revoking issues regarding your professional license.

The Veterinary Licensing Board

In California, the laws that regulate veterinarians and their licensing fall under California Business and Professional Code 4800 to 4917. Concerning this statute, a veterinary medical board under the department of consumer affairs was established. The members of the board are seven members, with three of them required to be public members.

The statute makes it a requirement for each member to have graduated from a veterinary college recognized by the state. Additionally, the members must have been California residents for not less than five years before their appointment to the board. They should also have a professional veterinarian license and has practiced veterinary medicine in California over the five years.

Public members of the board also must be California residents for not less than five years. They are also not required to belong to any other boards or hold licenses from them. This law provides for the board members to be in office for four-year terms. Each member is expected to stay in the office until their replacement is identified. Or for one year upon the expiry of their term.

The governor is responsible for appointing five members of the board. One of them is required to be a member of the public. The other two members are appointed by the Speaker and the senate. These members must be public members pursuant to the law. The board is then mandated to appoint a person to become the executive officer mandated to perform duties as directed by the appointing board. This appointee should not be from the civil service.

Licensing Veterinarians

 According to California Business and Professional Code 4825, it is illegal for an individual in California to carry out the practice of veterinary medicine when their license is invalid, expired, or revoked.

However, according to professional code 4826.1, if needed, a veterinarian can give emergency treatment when requested by the owner of an animal at their own accord. This means the owner of the animal cannot sue the veterinarian for liability in case the animal dies or sustains more injuries unless it was due to gross negligence. Some cases do not need a person to have a license to practice. Some of these are:

  • The owner of the animals can practice bona fide veterinary medicine sole to his or her animals. This exception is extended to the employees of the animal owner. Also, a person helping the owner as long as the service is carried out gratuitously is exempted.
  • Performance of agglutination testing on one’s poultry does not require one to have a veterinarian practicing license
  • Determining the pregnancy status of an animal, infertility or sterility, food animals, or equine when insemination is taking place as long as the person does not charge for the determination. Any person that charges for a veterinarian service must hold a practicing license.
  • Giving sodium pentobarbital to aid in the killing of injured, sick, unwanted, or homeless pets even when there is no veterinarian, does not require a license. However, the person should be an animal shelter worker or from a humane society. The person must be trained in sodium pentobarbital administration to offer these services.

According to this statute, a granted license issued to an individual to practice veterinary medicine, and any of its branches stays valid until the due date for the renewal fees. In addition, the holder of the license must comply with every provision with regard to renewing the license. If a license holder violates the law, they can get their license revoked or suspended in addition to facing prosecution for the violations.

Based on California Business and Professional Code 4831, a person that violates or helps in the violation of the regulations faces misdemeanor charges. If they are convicted of the offense, they will be required to pay between $500 and $2,000 as a fine. Additionally, they may face a jail sentence of between thirty days and a year or either of the punishment.

California Business and Professional Code 4846.4 stipulate that a holder of a veterinarian license must apply biennially to renew or register a license before or on the final day of their birthday month. The board overseeing licensing of veterinarians provide the forms for application.

This law requires the applicant to attach a statement that indicates they have no felony convictions; neither have they been subjected to disciplinary action under any public agencies in California. It further requires the applicant to indicate that other than California, no other agency has brought disciplinary action against them in any state. Should the applicant be unable to provide this statement, they must attach a report detailing the conviction, the violation of the professional discipline taken.

Once this is received, the board before it renews the license makes inquiries and carries out investigations to establish if they need to institute disciplinary action against the applicant.

With regard to California Business and Professional Code 4848, the applicant’s professional qualifications are examined, ascertained, and once found satisfactory, the board issues the applicant with a license. Those that do not meet the requirements or fail to demonstrate their competency through the exam, they are denied licenses to practice.

The examination issued to determine competency consists of:

  • A licensing exam administered nationally
  • An exam by the state board of California
  • An exam regarding the regulations and statutes of the practice act in veterinary medicine that is board administered.

Veterinary medical students from the Western University of Health Science and the University of California that have completed a course approved by the board on the ethics and law of veterinary medicine are exempted from doing the exam.

Further, the licensing exam is also waived if the board establishes that the applicant successfully took a licensure examination in a different state. However, this examination must be similar in scope and content to the one issued by California before deciding. The applicant must also have attained a score equivalent to the one required in California to pass the exam for licensing.

Further, the statute stipulates that the board should not preclude any individual that has partially completed their education program from a college from taking the exam. The individual should be allowed to take the exam before meeting the other requirements of getting a license. The board is also allowed to waive the requirements to the exam and give a license to practice when the applicant qualifies to the following:

  1. He is a holder of a valid and current license with excellent ratings from another country, Canadian province, and any other state in America. The validity of the license must be in three years just before applying for a practicing license in California. The license holder must have practical experience in clinical veterinary medicine of not less than two years. He or she should also have completed 2,944 hours of practice at the minimum. If the applicant has experience from working in an institution that is accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association as an intern or residence, they automatically meet the minimum required experience.
  2. When the applicant obtained their original license, they excelled in the national licensing requirements for veterinary science. Additionally, their score was equivalent to or better than the score needed for a pass in the exam administered by the state of California.
  3. He is either a graduate of a veterinary college approved by the state and board or is a holder of a certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG). A certification from the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE) is also recognized.
  4. He has passed an exam issued by the board concerning the practice of veterinary medicine act and regulations
  5. He must complete an educational curriculum approved by the board on specific diseases and their conditions. Consultations are carried out between the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the board to come up with the appropriate curricula covering the diseases and their conditions.

Issuance of Temporary Veterinary License

The law allows the board to issue temporary licenses whose validity is one year. These licenses are issued to applicants that wish to practice veterinary medicine while under the covering or supervision of a licensed veterinarian in California. This licensed veterinarian must hold excellent standing in practice according to the board. To qualify for the temporary license, the applicant must fulfill the following:

  1. Must meet all the requirements discussed above
  2. He must never have been denied a license before according to the statute
  3. He must complete a curriculum on regional illnesses and conditions as approved by the board.

After completing the course on regional illnesses and conditions, the holder of the temporary license must apply to have a full license. The application, in this case, must be submitted with verification that he or she completed the curriculum in addition to the required application fees.

At the discretion of the board, they may decide to extend the temporary license expiry date for a maximum of a year due to health issues, undue hardships, or military service. If a person is applying to get an extension, they must get the forms from the board.

To get a license to practice veterinary medicine, the premises used must meet the requirements by the law. Based on California Business and Professional code 4853, a veterinarian must register the premises they will practice from. Whether they specialize in veterinary dentistry, surgery, or any other branch, the board must have the premises registered to them. Premises, according to the statute, refer to buildings, vehicles, mobile units, or kennels.

However, if the practitioner operates from a registered building, they don’t have to register their mobile units or vehicles. The registration of the structure is enough to and includes a declaration of using the vehicle or mobile unit.

Another requirement for getting a license is sanitation. According to California Business and Professional code 4854, the place where the practice is, the apparatus, apparel, and instruments must meet specific set standards of cleanliness and sanitation.

Disciplining Licensed Veterinarians

Under California Business and Professional code 4875, a mandate to suspend or revoke the registration or license of a practitioner for a while is given to the board. However, before the suspension or revocation is carried out, a hearing with the board is done. This is usually to determine the punishment.

Additionally to the suspension, the board can order the practitioner to pay a fine of not more than $5,000. This is if found in violation of the regulations, as found under section 4883. The fine, in this case, can be charged instead of or together with having your license revoked. 

With regard to California Business and Professional code 4875.2, after completing the evaluation, the executive officer may have a reason to conclude that the veterinarian or an imposter has violated the law. When this is established, he can issue the veterinarian a citation. Every citation should be written down. It describes in detail the violation while including references to the violations according to the law. The citation can also include the civil penalty that the veterinarian will be expected to pay.

The veterinarian is then served the citation directly or by use of mail that requires proof of receiving. However, before issuing a citation, the executive officer is required to share it with a board member. The member must be a veterinarian and is tasked with reviewing the citation. In the review, there must be the inclusion of attempts made to get in touch with the veterinarian to talk about and find a solution to the probable violation. Once the board member finalizes the review, he or she writes a report on their findings and gives recommendations. If the conclusion from the board member concludes that the practitioner violated the provisions of the law, a citation will be given to him or her.

The veterinarian, under California Business and professional code 4875.6, may want to contest the proposed penalty or citation. There is a provision to challenge the citation or the board’s decision in ten business days upon receiving the citation. He or she does this in writing to the board’s executive officer and requests a meeting with them or the board member that did the review. This meeting is termed as an informal conference.

The statute provides that the executive officer or the board member must convene the informal conference in sixty days upon getting the request. At the end of the conference, a decision is made to dismiss, affirm, or modify the assessment penalty or citation. This is also done in writing and must give reasons for any decision arrived at.

If following the informal conference, the veterinarian is not satisfied with the outcome, he or she can write to the board’s executive officer in thirty days. This is upon receiving the written conclusions from the conference. The statute further states that a veterinarian that does not inform the executive officer in writing of their intention to challenge the citation, the conclusions from the informal conference are final.

However, when a veterinarian writes to challenge the decision after the informal conference, the board’s executive officer is required to forward the issue to the office of the Attorney General. Following the hearing, an administrative judge and the board will decide to modify, affirm, or vacate the citation. They can also direct other relief to include the failure of the veterinarian to follow the board’s directive may be a basis for denial or suspension of a license or both.

The statute further states that after the review process is exhausted or the appeal time has lapsed, the board can sue the veterinarian to collect the penalties and get an order that compels the veterinarian to obey the abatement order. Certified copies of the order must accompany the complaint by the board by the board, the board’s factual findings, as well as the determination, arrived at by the administrative judge and the board.

If a registered veterinarian fails to pay the penalty in thirty days of receiving the assessment, and the assessment is not being contested, disciplinary action may be taken against the veterinarian. The penalty amount can also be topped to the license renewal fee. The fee must be paid at the time of renewal of the license. If not, the veterinarian is denied renewal of their license to practice.

When can a License be Revoked, Suspended, or Denied?

Various instances can result in revocation, suspension, or denial of a license other than the ones discussed above. Some of these are but not limited to:

  • When the applicant has a criminal conviction related to practice, functions, duties, or qualifications in veterinary medicine.
  • Having an attachment with or lending your license to an illegal practitioner
  • When found in violation of the laws governing the veterinary practice
  • If found in misleading and false advertisements
  • Fraud in the treatment and reporting of biological tests
  • Employing a person not licensed to carry out veterinarian duties.

Find a San Diego License Defense Attorney Near Me

Qualifying for a professional veterinarian license is not a walk in the park. However, getting it revoked or suspended is easier than one can imagine. When you are denied the privilege to practice means denied livelihood. If you are facing challenges in obtaining a license or your license has been revoked or suspended, you need to engage a professional license attorney to assist with the matter. At San Diego License Attorney, we are experienced in helping you with all the issues regarding your license. Call us today at 619-728-7448, and let us assist you.

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