The board ruled that nothing in the confidentiality regulation is intended to limit a veterinarian's ability to report animal cruelty. It also added immunity for veterinarians from civil and criminal prosecution for reporting animal cruelty. The board will initiate a regulations amendment process.
During the 25th Legislative Session, Rep. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) sponsored an amendment to HB 297, a bill to allow fourth year vet students to participate in an externship. The proposed amendment affirmed the right of veterinarians to report animal cruelty.
"Veterinarians who believe they were prohibited from reporting animal cruelty came to me for help," Gardner said. "And although some Board members insisted that veterinarians can and do report abuse to law enforcement, the Legislative Research report done at my request found not a single example of a legal case in which a veterinarian had contacted law enforcement to report animal cruelty.
Legal review of the amended regulations is scheduled for October during the Board's next meeting.