By Jordan Borque
At its August 13, 2020 meeting [Agenda item 4], the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) held a public hearing on the proposed adoption of section 2038.5 Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR). According to the initial statement of reasons, the proposed rulemaking reflects the Board’s efforts to establish a clear definition of animal physical rehabilitation, clarify who may perform animal physical rehabilitation, and under what circumstances a person may perform animal physical rehabilitation.
The Board originally noticed its proposed regulatory action concerning animal physical rehabilitation on March 13, 2020. The changes are an effort to comply with Business and Professions Code section 4800.1, which mandates that the protection of the public shall be the highest priority of VMB in exercising its licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions. The proposal comes after growing concern about unlicensed individuals and licensed physical therapists practicing on animals. [25:2 CRLR 66]
During the 45-day public comment period, the Board received: 39 comments and letters in support of the regulation, 146 comments and letters in opposition to the regulation, one petition, and one comment or letter about the provision of a wildlife rehabilitation exemption. Individuals in support of the regulatory proposal stated that the field of animal physical rehabilitation needs regulation and oversight to protect pets and consumers. Supporters also argued that animal physical rehabilitation falls under the practice of veterinary medicine and, thus, should remain under the supervision of veterinarians. Opponents commented that the animal rehabilitation rulemaking monopolizes the veterinary profession and limits access to quality animal care. Opponents also argue that the proposal would not ensure educational competency because the specialty of animal physical rehabilitation is not taught in veterinary schools.
At its October 2020 meeting, the Board will address any new substantive comments.