Senate to Vote on Florida Veterinary Practice Act Questions

Two years after the Florida Board of Veterinary Practice formally interpreted the state’s veterinary practice act to include a number of alternative therapies among practices limited to licensed veterinarians–to the dismay of many horse owners

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Two years after the Florida Board of Veterinary Practice formally interpreted the state’s veterinary practice act to include a number of alternative therapies among practices limited to licensed veterinarians–to the dismay of many horse owners and alternative therapy practitioners–the state legislature is close to resolving the dispute. House Bill 641 expands the exemption now provided in Sec. 474.203(5) of the Florida Veterinary Practice Act that allows the owner of an animal, or the owner’s “regular employees,” to provide veterinary care for his or her animals in most circumstances without running afoul of the state’s practice act.


HB 641 retains the existing language and adds a further exemption allowing a horse owner to hire part-time or temporary employees or independent contractors to “assist with herd management and animal husbandry tasks for herd and flock animals.” The proposed legislation also allows non-regular employees or independent contractors to provide “farriery and manual hand floating of teeth on equines” owned by the employer.


The legislation does not define “herd management and animal husbandry tasks” beyond a few examples (including castration, dehorning, and parasite control), but the language is sufficiently broad to arguably include many, if not most, alternative therapies. Under current Florida law, practice of veterinary medicine without a license is a felony, and HB 641 would provide a safe harbor for many alternative therapy practitioners.


Similar legislation failed in 2005, but HB 641 has breezed through the Florida House of Representatives. The bill won unanimous approval from the State Resources Council and the Business Regulation Committee and garnered only one negative vote in the Agriculture Committee. On April 19, 2006, when HB 641 went before the full House for a vote, the bill passed unanimously

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Milt Toby was an author and attorney who wrote about horses and legal issues affecting the equine industry for more than 40 years. Former Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine Law Section, Toby wrote 10 nonfiction books, including national award winners Dancer’s Image and Noor. You can read more about him at TheHorse.com/1122392.

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