A Legal Overview for Zoologic Medicine Veterinarians

Chapter 71

A Legal Overview for Zoologic Medicine Veterinarians

Gregory M. Dennis , David S. Miller

This chapter is a general overview of some laws of the United States and other countries, as well as regulations, policies, court decisions, and international treaties for zoologic medicine veterinarians* or others who might want such information as relevant to treating or handling wild or zoo animals. This chapter is not a detailed analysis of each law, regulation, policy, treaty, or court decision pertaining to veterinarians or other persons treating or handling wild or zoo animals. Certain regulations have been fully quoted because an awareness of their precise wording may often be critical to ensure compliance and to support decisions where any misunderstanding or miscomprehension could have legal ramifications.

Legal Status of Wild Animals—United States

Countries with legal systems rooted in English common law tend to classify animals under two categories: (1) domitoe naturoe (domesticated or tame) animals and (2) feroe naturae (wild) animals.1 Unlike domesticated animals, wild animals generally cannot be owned by individuals. Rather, wild animals are considered to be owned by or held in trust by the government for the benefit of its people.2 Even if an individual captures and keeps a wild animal, the possession is considered only temporary and is lost if the wild animal escapes.3 Wild animals are generally considered to be owned by the state in which they are located, and occasionally, American federal law may step in and designate certain animals, commonly endangered species, as being under its protection.4

Infectious Disease Control—United States

Control of infectious diseases has been one of the most important responsibilities of veterinarians. Regulations concerning the prevention of exposure to foreign animal diseases or limiting endemic diseases are generally targeted toward production animals used for food and fiber. However, the potential for these diseases to be transmitted to nondomestic species, particularly free-ranging populations or the potential for nondomestic species to serve as reservoirs and vectors of disease can greatly impact the activities of zoologic medicine veterinarians, as livestock represent a multibillion dollar international industry with interests that generally supersede the interests of nondomestic species.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services (APHIS-VS) has the responsibility for safeguarding animal health and other livestock concerns and also regulates veterinary biologics that may be used in the practice of zoologic medicine. The responsibilities of the APHIS-VS include, but are not limited to, establishing policies and practices to limit introduction of foreign animal diseases and coordination of disease control responses with the World Organisation for Animal Health (Office of International Epizootics [OIE]) and other international entities. The APHIS-VS has also established the National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) as a means of enlisting support among nongovernmental veterinarians for foreign and endemic disease programs, emergency management and disease control programs (e.g., for tuberculosis, brucellosis, and other diseases), and coordination of animal shipping and control of disease among states with varying animal health regulations. Testing and examination of animals for interstate transport is one of the common responsibilities of many zoologic medicine veterinarians. Adherence to legal responsibilities is required for continued or nondisciplined licensure to practice veterinary medicine. Although the NVAP is federally managed, accreditation duties are held at the state level.

Recent changes include online availability of continuing education modules on transmission, recognition, and reporting of exotic and emerging diseases and establishment of Category I (mostly small mammal companion animal species) and Category II (all animals) accreditation levels. Key to NVAP is accredited veterinarians’ adherence to the program and the profession’s legal responsibilities. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), having the force of law, is the comprehensive and detailed “rule book,” which contains all of the current federal regulations and provides directions for prior versions. In addition to the CFRs, all veterinarians should be aware that besides infectious disease concerns, the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code 2012 and Aquatic Animal Health Code 2010 (Boxes 71-1 and 71-2) include veterinary and animal welfare standards that have international ramifications.

Box 71-1

Terrestrial Animal Health Code

Article 3.4.6: Veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals

1. Veterinary medicine/science: In order to ensure quality in the conduct of veterinary medicine/science, the veterinary legislation should provide a definition of veterinary medicine/science sufficient to address the following;

a. define the prerogatives of veterinarians and of the various categories of veterinary para-professionals that are recognised by the Member Country;

b. define the minimum initial and continuous educational requirements and competencies for veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals;

c. prescribe the conditions for recognition of the qualifications for veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals;

d. define the conditions to perform the activities of veterinary medicine/science; and

e. identify the exceptional situations, such as epizootics, under which persons other than veterinarians may undertake activities that are normally carried out by veterinarians.

2. The control of veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals: Veterinary legislation should provide a basis for regulation of veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals in the public interest. To that end, the legislation should:

a. describe the general system of control in terms of the political, administrative and geographic configuration of the country;

b. describe the various categories of veterinary para-professionals recognised by the Member Country according to its needs, notably in animal health and food safety, and for each category, prescribe its training, qualifications, tasks and extent of supervision;

c. prescribe the powers to deal with conduct and competence issues, including licensing requirements, that apply to veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals;

d. provide for the possibility of delegation of powers to a professional organisation such as a veterinary statutory body; and

e. where powers have been so delegated, describe the prerogatives, the functioning and responsibilities of the mandated professional organisation.

From 2010 ©OIE—Terrestrial Animal Health Code, World Organisation for Animal Health.

Box 71-257,58

Terrestrial Animal Health Code

Article 6.11.2: Zoonotic diseases transmissible from nonhuman primates

“Veterinary Authorities of exporting countries should issue international veterinary certificates only upon presentation of valid CITES documentation.

Veterinary Authorities should make sure that the animals are individually identified by approved methods that assure traceability and to avoid transmission of disease (see Chapter 4.15: Hygiene Precautions, Identification, Blood Sampling and Vaccination1).

For reasons of public health, animal welfare and pathogen introduction to wild populations, Veterinary Authorities of importing countries should not authorise the import of non-human primates for the purpose of being kept as pets.

In the case of a non-human primate being imported directly from a country within the natural range of the animal’s species concerned, and where only limited diagnostic testing is available, Veterinary Authorities of importing countries should place more emphasis on quarantine procedures and less on veterinary certification. As a matter of principle, limited health guarantees given by the supplier or the Veterinary Authority of the country of origin should not constitute an obstacle to imports, but very strict post import quarantine requirements should be imposed. Particularly, the quarantine should meet the standards set in Chapter 5.9 (Quarantine measures applicable to non-human primates2), and should be of sufficient length to minimise the risk of transmission of diseases where tests are not readily available or of limited value.

Veterinary Authorities of importing countries may reduce the quarantine requirements for non-human primates imported from premises with permanent veterinary supervision provided that the animals were born or have been kept for at least two years on these premises, are individually identified and accompanied by proper certification issued by qualified officials, and the official certification is supplemented by a complete documentation of the clinical history of each animal and its group of origin.

In cases where it is necessary to import non-human primates which are known or suspected to be carriers of a zoonotic disease, the import should not be restricted by any of these recommendations, provided that the Veterinary Authority of the importing country requires the placing of the animals in an establishment located on its territory which has been approved to receive them and which meets the standards set in Chapter 5.9 (Quarantine measures applicable to non-human primates).”

From 2010 ©OIE—Terrestrial Animal Health Code, World Organisation for Animal Health.

Animal Welfare Act—United States

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Since its original enactment, it has been strengthened and expanded. Today, the AWA sets minimum standards for the care and treatment of certain animals: “regulated animals” (or “AWA animals”). The AWA does not cover “nonregulated” animals; however, matters involving nonregulated animals that affect regulated animals might come under the authority of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-APHIS (or, simply, “APHIS”) but only to the extent of the affected AWA regulated animals.

Depending on particular circumstances, place of employment, and entity or person to whom veterinary services are being provided, veterinarians may find themselves having to comply with various regulations, policies, and guidelines of APHIS. The two principal regulations that zoological medicine veterinarians must be aware of are as follows:

1. 9 CFR § 2.40 (Dealer and exhibitors [Zoos]: Attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care), to-wit:

“(a) Each dealer or exhibitor shall have an attending veterinarian who shall provide adequate veterinary care to its animals in compliance with this section.

(1) Each dealer and exhibitor shall employ an attending veterinarian under formal arrangements. In the case of a part-time attending veterinarian or consultant arrangements, the formal arrangements shall include a written program of veterinary care5 and regularly scheduled visits to the premises of the dealer or exhibitor; and

(2) Each dealer and exhibitor shall assure that the attending veterinarian has appropriate authority to ensure the provision of adequate veterinary care and to oversee the adequacy of other aspects of animal care and use.

(b) Each dealer or exhibitor shall establish and maintain programs of adequate veterinary care that include:

(1) The availability of appropriate facilities, personnel, equipment, and services to comply with the provisions of this subchapter;

(2) The use of appropriate methods to prevent, control, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries, and the availability of emergency, weekend, and holiday care;

(3) Daily observation of all animals to assess their health and well-being; Provided, however, That daily observation of animals may be accomplished by someone other than the attending veterinarian; and Provided, further, That a mechanism of direct and frequent communication is required so that timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior, and well-being is conveyed to the attending veterinarian;

(4) Adequate guidance to personnel involved in the care and use of animals regarding handling, immobilization, anesthesia, analgesia, tranquilization, and euthanasia; and

(5) Adequate pre-procedural and post-procedural care in accordance with established veterinary medical and nursing procedures.”

It has been judicially declared that it is not a reasonable interpretation of “adequate veterinary care” in 9 CFR § 2.40 [for APHIS] “to insist that all the animals under such care should have unflaggingly perfect health.”6

2. 9 C.F.R. § 2.33: Veterinarians working at research facilities should also be aware of this regulation and its provisions pertaining to the facility’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

APHIS does not issue licenses for veterinarians, but much can stem from these regulations, which may impact veterinarians treating or handling AWA-regulated animals and, derivatively, their state licenses to practice veterinary medicine.

Veterinarians treating or handling animals should also be familiar with, among other items, the following:

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Aug 27, 2016 | Posted by in EXOTIC, WILD, ZOO | Comments Off on A Legal Overview for Zoologic Medicine Veterinarians

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