My views of the new America Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)  "Model" Veterinary Medical Practice Act 'Draft'



A 'Heads Up' -- Tell the AVMA *You* Are The One To Make the Decision Regarding Your Companion Animal, Part 1

Please take the time to read the new AVMA Draft which will revise the Laws by which all licensed veterinarians must abide, located at the following url:

I printed it out and am still contemplating all of the implications and ramifications. My sense is that regarding some of the proposals, the AVMA is being pressured to make the Veterinary Practice Act (Law) clearer. This could be partially due to the "sting" operation by the North Carolina Vet Med Board (see below) who brought to court a licensed Chiropractor, Certified in Animal Chiropractic. That case was dismissed by the judge. I understand that that same Board may attempt another kind of court case - civil charges, or something similar:

"We are seeking to protect both the right of the public to free access to properly trained doctors and the right of properly trained doctors to be protected from the "weekend chiropractitioners" who would cheapen the quality of chiropractic care their companions deserve." Paul D. Rowan

Today, as I read through the 'Draft', I became increasingly concerned about many issues which will, no doubt, affect all of us, and it may be positively and negatively. I understand the necessity to prevent the unqualified people from doing harm to the unsuspecting public's animals. However, in the attempts to regulate the Veterinary Profession, there are some important issues to consider:

1) Our Right and Obligation to Advocate for our Companion Animal must not be infringed. It should be very clear to everyone that the animal's Guardian/Owner is the ONLY person with the power and authority to make decisions regarding any treatment for his or her companion animal. Therefore, the AVMA proposed Law 'Draft' should be **corrected**  See pg 3, Section 21, where it states: "The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animals and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian's instructions". We must respond to this on behalf of our animals!

2) Freedom of Speech - if, in our experience, we have had success with some treatment we tried for our dog, are we at risk of prosecution (pg 17, Sec.22) if we 'recommend' it to others? (pg 3, item 18, a, iv). And this could be via Internet Discussion Lists, Web Pages, books, even telephone conversations - according to the proposed AVMA 'Draft' Law, we are in violation via "any method or mode" ... "includes telephonic and other electronic communications for the rendering of advice or recommendation for the treatment,... relief, or prevention of animal disease." (pg 5).

3) Invasion of Privacy, Divulging Confidential Information - (pg 16). This proposed law would allow anyone's animals' medical records to be sent to others *without* the guardian/owner's consent and therefore, without one's knowledge. Why? In what specific cases would this happen?

4) Unfair Restriction of Access to Qualified and Properly Trained Doctors. For example, our access to licensed doctors will be severely restricted as in the case of having our animals treated with chiropractic. There is no vet Certified in Chiropractic in my locale.

Because Veterinary Medicine is an Art as well as a Science, it is not stagnant. We learn of new technology and research regularly, along with healing modalities previously unknown. However, in some cases, the information has been around for a very long time. For instance, the famous Herbalist, Juliette di Bairacli Levy is not a vet but has more than 40 years of experience in herbal therapy for animals. Would she, at the ripe old age of 90, be arrested and sent to jail for "Practicing Vet Medicine without a License" because she recommended one of her excellent natural herbal treatments, such as feeding some shredded raw carrot to increase milk production for the dam?

On the other hand, I am concerned with the many people who are actively selling products and giving out advice who may not be as knowledgeable or as truthful as they should be. In May, 2002, some people were sued selling pet supplements via the internet for "numerous false and misleading assertions and claims".

To follow is an except from:

Miller Files Pet Medicine Lawsuit
Suit alleges that western Iowa company makes false claims and uses unapproved ingredients in Internet sales of pet medicines and supplements.

"People love their pets," [Atty. General] Miller said. "I can attest to that, with our dog, Sam. We also know people can become desperate when their pets are not doing well or are very sick, and pet owners can be very vulnerable to misleading claims about so-called medicines or supplements that might help. And more and more people are turning to the Internet to find cures to their pets' problems. That's why we have a system of regulation," he said.

"We allege the defendants violated the Consumer Fraud Act by using false assertions and claims that certainly could mislead pet owners and result in them spending huge amounts of money."

"The lawsuit says Iowa Dept. of Agriculture inspectors submitted samples of Pet Medicine Chest products for analysis by the State laboratory. The analyses revealed inconsistencies between labeling information and the actual quantities of ingredients, and revealed unapproved feed ingredients both on the labels and in the samples. In March, the Ag Dept. advised the defendants about the problems and ordered them to cease any further product sales, but sales continued, the suit alleges."

So, it does send some chills up my spine to think that "big brother" or Fascist types are attempting to so severely restrict sharing information.

Anyhow, that's just some of what I've thought about that "Draft" for the new Laws affecting us and our companion animals. Kind of surprised that I haven't seen much other discussion about it as it does seem to be a really important proposal. What many folks may not realize is that *our preferences matter* and we should let the AVMA know exactly what we want to do for our animals.

From the AVMA 'Draft'

"Please note that this is a draft revision only. After the PATF [Practice Act Task Force] considers all comments received and makes appropriate changes to the draft MVPA [Model Veterinary Practice Act], the final proposed revised MVPA will be forwarded to the AVMA Executive Board for consideration. The revised MVPA will only become a final document after it has been approved by the AVMA Executive Board."

Please mail written comments to:  

Dr. Beth Sabin


1931 N Meacham Rd., Suite 100

Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360  

CC (send a copy of )  your note to:

Comments postmarked by March 15, 2003 will be forwarded to the PATF [Practice Act Task Force] for its consideration.

IMPORTANT -- cc your note to:


The Ancient Healing Arts Association (AHAA)  is requesting that ALL letters to the AVMA be copied to them.


The volunteers at the AHAA will collect ALL the letters, print them out, count the number of letters received by March 15, 2003, and present them in person to the AVMA.


They don't want to see a single one "get lost in the mail", this time around.


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A 'Heads Up' -- Tell the AVMA *You* Are The One To Make the Decision Regarding Your Companion Animal, Part 2

Please be aware of the seriousness re: AVMA Veterinary Law 'Draft' proposal. It will likely have *many* ramifications affecting just about everyone who goes to a vet -- including the vets. I say this because it will no longer be possible to us to consult with a holistic vet via the telephone or internet --if this 'Draft' is accepted, as is. As I read that 'Draft', it will be illegal for anyone to even *recommend or offer advice* about *anything* having to do with animals - *unless* the one who is *asking and receiving* the info is a Licensed Vet.

Am I wrong? Read the proposed Law, and let me know.

It would appear, that if this proposed Law 'Draft' goes through as is, any of us who suggest helpful treatments which worked for our animal companions -- and all the lay professionals who do so -- will be *prohibited* from that, *and* dealing with others' animals. Why? Because, it will be "Practicing Veterinary Medicine without a License" and therefore, illegal, placing any non-vets subject to prosecution and fines.

Know any professionals who are not vets, but very good in their particular field? Folks such as:

Herbalists, Chiropractors, Homeopaths, Lecturers, Aromatherapists, Holistic Care Consultants, Flower Essence Therapists, Animal Massage Therapists, Essential Oil Therapists, Reiki practitioners, Distance Healers, TTouch practitioners, etc, -- anyone who does almost anything with regard to animals in any mode - including telephone, electronic, etc, -- and is not a Licensed Veterinarian, is off limits to us --UNLESS we let our concerns be known!

IMPORTANT -- cc your note to: 

The Ancient Healing Arts Association (AHAA)is requesting that ALL letters to the AVMA be copied to them - for some very good reasons.

The volunteers at the AHAA will collect ALL the letters, print them out, count the number of them received by March 15, 2003, and present them in person to the AVMA.

They don't want to see a single one "get lost in the mail", this time around.


"Please note that this is a draft revision only. After the PATF [Practice Act Task Force] considers all comments received and makes appropriate changes to the draft MVPA [Model Veterinary Practice Act], the final proposed revised MVPA will be forwarded to the AVMA Executive Board for consideration. The revised MVPA will only become a final document after it has been approved by the AVMA Executive Board." --From the AVMA 'Draft'

Please mail written comments to:

Dr. Beth Sabin


1931 N Meacham Rd., Suite 100

Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360

CC (send a copy of) your note to:

Comments postmarked by March 15, 2003 will be forwarded to the PATF [Practice Act Task Force] for its consideration.


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More of my thoughts regarding the proposed changes by the AVMA

I agree wholeheartedly with having a properly trained Certified Animal Chiropractor treat my animals.  And, it does seems that a lot of folks aren't aware of the potential damage an unqualified person could cause, even without intending to do so.  That is why my animals have always been treated with Chiropractic by properly trained doctors.  Two doctors were, in fact, veterinarians in NJ where I previously lived (and also had 2 horses), and two Licensed Chiropractors Certified by the American Chiropractic Veterinary Assoc.  I'm in the mountains of Western NC, and there's no veterinarians within a reasonable driving distance who are Certified in Animal Chiropractic -- just the one excellent Chiropractor who is Certified in Animal Chiropractic -- but he's not a vet, and he and I have some very serious concerns about how the new AVMA 'Draft' will arbitrarily restrict his ability to treat his patients.

I say this because I have thoroughly read that 'Draft'.  The "Preamble" alone confirms this.  I verified this information with my own State Veterinary Board and with other professionals. The AVMA "Model" Vet Med Practice Act serves as a Guide for all of the States in our Nation in drafting statues, (State Laws) each State Legislature to enact.  It's my understanding that licensed veterinarians are supposed to be members of their Professional Organization, the AVMA, and as Members, abide by the AVMA rules. 

The AVMA 'Draft' provides what the AVMA thinks is appropriate for State Vet Medicine Boards, whose members are appointed by the State's Governor, to include in their Laws.  The AVMA is asking for comments, but there are problems with that as detailed in the message from Craig Denega, President of the Ancient Healing Arts Assoc.

In order for veterinarians to be licensed and have the "privilege" to practice Vet Medicine, they must pass the State Board Exam of the State in which the vet intends to practice.  Of course there's all sorts of other regulations and changes proposed to the State Boards in the AVMA 'Draft', PLUS new proposals -- see my notes above.  As the AVMA "Draft' reads, it gives me great cause for concern -- as it should everyone who has or treats animals.  If you don't believe me, I URGE you to read the AVMA 'Draft' thoroughly and tell me where I'm wrong.

You may be wondering why the AVMA 'Draft' has been presented and I offered a couple of thoughts about this were mentioned in my previous post.  Well, A LOT more is probably going on behind the scenes and as usual, likely has to do with power and money.  What came to mind was one particular problem that does need to be addressed: poorly written State Laws, and the NC Chiropractor case mentioned previously highlights that point.

Another pressing issue associated with the AVMA proposing this new 'Draft' is to protect the public by eliminating the growing number of lay people who aren't veterinarians and who will, by their new definitions be "Practicing Vet Medicine without a License".  Now, these may or may not be properly trained and qualified people.  But, because, as the 'Draft' specifies, when there are symbols after their names, they give the public the impression that they are 'experts'.  These 'experts' are doing all sorts of things involving animals.  Some are very good and some may not be.

As far as I know, it was always considered permissible, and people appreciated the sharing of helpful information concerning our companion animals.  But, all that will change with the new AVMA 'Draft'.  I always suggest that folks consult with their vets whenever they're dealing with a companion animal's health issue and often that they seek one who is holistic, knowledgeable about nutrition.. Problem is that most vets haven't been taught about the advances in nutrition and other Complementary Veterinary treatment modalities.  Vet Schools are making some beginnings, but meanwhile, there's not enough vets who are knowledgeable in fields such as nutrition.  Some people feel that there's a 'conflict of interest' because of the commercial feed industry's undue influence in the vet's schooling regarding nutrition.

So, we are all attempting to deal with a 'gap' of sorts:

  • The practicing vets need the information in order to treat their patients, and the new AVMA 'Draft' in addressing this, states that the vets can consult with others who are more knowledgeable.  However the 'Draft' stipulates that it is ONLY the vet who will be able to do this.  Changes proposed makes it illegal for folks to consult with anyone or get treatment for my animals who is not a veterinarian. 

  • Furthermore knowledgeable vets will be prohibited from consulting with average folks which means that we will not be able to consult via telephone, email, or any other method with a veterinarian unless that vet is doing in-person exams on our animals, on a time frame of every 6 months or a year. 

Here is the dilemma, as I see it:

1) I absolutely want the freedom to choose the doctor or Complementary Practitioner to consult with and /or treat my animals without restriction.  I want this for myself, too.  Because of my intensive independent study of more natural options in caring for my animals,  and extensive experience in dealing with veterinarians over a period of more than 25 years, I am able to come to my own conclusions about who I feel is competent to treat my animals.

2) I also recognize that there are unethical people representing themselves as 'experts' who may be exploiting this present 'gap' for their own interests or financial gain.

There may or may not always be a problem when someone represents themselves as an 'expert' and recommends supplements, and it just so happens that 'expert' is selling these products.  Certainly, many good companies with great products are in the marketplace.  However, I am aware that bad advice has been given out by an 'expert' selling supplements for dogs.  I believe it is a big problem when an 'expert' refuses to allow correct information for folks to have.. 

What should be of particular concern for everyone is when folks are specifically dealing with very sick dogs, such as those with cancer and kidney disease.  Those people are very vulnerable and may feel desperate to buy anything that might help their beloved dogs get better. Many animal lovers feel that their companion animals are family members, and want to do everything possible, so unfortunately, they could be targets for unethical people to exploit.

At present the States' Laws regarding Practicing Vet Medicine are too broad and ambiguous.  In my State of NC, the Judge who dismissed the case of the Chiropractor who is Certified in Animal Chiropractic, said that our Laws were so loosely worded, that practically anyone doing anything to an animal could be accused of "Practicing Vet Medicine without a License" --- including the Priests who perform "Blessing of The Animals"!

There are some additional serious ramifications to this AVMA 'Draft' which will affect all of us who have companion animals, veterinarians, along with the many professional lay people providing needed animal care. One is the legal ramifications which vets could face and others have address those elsewhere far more succinctly than I could.


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Who Has Control?

I've been thinking over some issues with regard to the new The AVMA 'Draft' and enlarged upon a few earlier points that I made with regard to the following:

  •  It states on pg 3, Section 21,: "The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animals and the need for medical treatment,   and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian's instructions".

I've broken that into two parts:

"The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animals and the need for medical treatment,"

That 'blanket assumption" should be a very serious concern to everyone, even the veterinarians.  Why? Here are only a few reasons:

1)  I am the person responsible for making ALL decisions, judgments concerning ALL aspects of my companion animals' care.  What would your reaction be if we just made two substitutions to have it read "doctor" and "child" instead of vet and animal? 

There is not now nor will ever be, any tacit relinquishing of my responsibility for my animals to anyone else.   Instances in which anyone other than myself would make decisions on my behalf would be:

a)  In an EMERGENCY.  It is understood by anyone with common sense that if there was an emergency situation, then and only then, the veterinarian would have to provide what he or she feels is the best medical care for my animal.

b)  Following my WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS which authorize  a person I trust completely to get my animals and care for them as I would, should I become incapacitated, severely disabled, or die.  That is a legal document when signed by me and notarized.

Therefore, the veterinarian has NO LEGAL RIGHT to "assume responsibility" for anything having to do with my animal.  It is outrageous and arrogant of the AVMA to include this in a "Model" Law for all the States of our Nation to adopt!

I think it's common knowledge that there are incompetent professionals in practically every field, and veterinarians are no exception. The new AVMA 'Draft' addresses this and has now made it "mandatory" to report all impaired veterinarians.  The 'Draft' specifically mentions the "impaired vets" and veterinarians who are not "of good moral character" which  it could be due to incompetence,  or drug and / alcohol abuse, mental problems, or "loss of motor skills". 

Now, then, I've had some good luck and found some great veterinarians.  Unfortunately, I have also had many more bad experiences with what I believe to be incompetent veterinarians. I have been interviewing others about this and found that, sad to say I am far from being alone in this regard.  One comment made to me by a highly respected veterinarian after hearing of one awful experience of mine was: "Veterinary Medicine is not what it once was."

How true.  Looking back to the late 1970's at the the James Harriot Series of books, and later on, the wonderful TV show --lovely heartwarming stories, and depicting compassionate vet care.  Had any like that lately?  Well, if so, count your blessings.  I have almost always had to search far and wide to be able to find a vet I feel is competent and trustworthy.  During my search, what I encountered would sicken a person with any decency. I've been writing about this in my new edition.  It's a chapter which has been very painful to write as I've had to relive all those horrible experiences. 

So, yes, the AVMA is correct when they acknowledge that they have bad vets out there practicing on animals. What if, for some reason we aren't aware that the vet we've been going to is "impaired" or of bad "moral character" -- and AVMA's 'Draft' becomes the Law which our State adopts?  Well, it seems to me that there's no limit to the damage that could be done to our animal, and the emotional and financial cost could be devastating -- to everyone but the "impaired veterinarian".  How is that justified?

"and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian's instructions".

That part of the Section 21 on page 3 of the AVMA 'Draft'  is not only arrogant, but dangerous.  Again, how would you react to your own physician stating this?  What if you wanted to take your vet's advice under consideration and also get a second opinion from a different person who knows more about unconventional but effective therapies, such as herbs?

When did we give up our RIGHT to disagree with a vet's opinion?  Their statement reeks of a condescending attitude pervasive in the AVMA 'Draft'.  Could you find a more of out-of-control action by medical professionals whose purpose is to provide a service to client?  When did we, the clients, give away any of our authority and power to have the final say about the care of our animals?  These authority figures with their 'power issues' demand that we be "compliant" as though we're totally under their 'command'.  Sounds to me like a 'Military set of Rules" whereby the US Constitution is suspended.

Another entire issue associated with the above statement has to do with the fact that many veterinarians will end up providing inadequate instructions in certain instances.  An example of this is when an Alternative or Complementary Therapy would be useful and the vet either doesn't know of anyone or consults with someone who may not have enough information.  No one knows the companion animal better than the guardian/owner.  Unless the professional discusses the important details of the situation directly with the guardian/owner, then in many instances the information will be incomplete - including the history-taking, describing symptoms, attitude, behavior, etc. So, who would follow inadequate instructions? Certainly not the guardian/owners who are Making Informed Decisions.

There's the legal liability aspect to that issue of the vet's own admission of not having the knowledge necessary to give 'competent' instructions and having to consult with others to relay this to his or her client.  Perhaps the client actually knows more about a Complementary treatment modality than the vet.  Do you think for a second he or she is going to follow blindly the vet's "instructions"?  If this AVMA 'Draft' is passed, many States will use it as a "Model" for their State Legislature to write Laws.  The residents of each State would then mount a campaign to demand that their Elected Representatives modify that "Model".

However, the battle would be better to fight and win where it begins - and force the AVMA to correct their 'Draft' to be Constitutional, REASONABLE, and FAIR.  As it reads presently, in my opinion, it is insulting, outrageous, offensive and fascist.

Copyright 1995-2003 Helen L. McKinnon All Rights Reserved

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