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Regulations for Louisiana veterinarians outlined in Practice Ac - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Regulations for Louisiana veterinarians outlined in Practice Act

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

Whether he's a Shih Tzu, a Jack Russell Terrior, or a Dachshund, chances are he's much more than just a pet.

"If you wouldn't want that for your own animal, then it's not going to happen in our facility."

Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Foret says that philosophy is at the core of University Veterinary Hospital in Shreveport.

But the concern isn't just for the animal she and the other doctors at the clinic treat. Pet owners are often just as anxious during their visits.

"It gets down to - when you're at a veterinary facility, if something doesn't feel right, just ask, 'why are you doing that?'"

Doctors in Louisiana are licensed and governed by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge, made up of five veterinarians, acting under the direction of the state legislature.

After graduation, vets are required to take a national board exam that covers all types of species.

Next, they must pass a state-specific exam, and finally, each person is tested on the state laws associated with veterinary medicine, based on where they'll be practicing.

"We also have registered veterinary techs, technicians, which is a two-year accredited program," explains Mike Tomino, legal counsel for the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

"It's up to the veterinarian, once they've passed that test, to stay up with the rules," Foret says.

Rules that are constantly changing.

Regulations for veterinarians in Louisiana fall under what's called the Practice Act, which includes a code of ethics.

"That Practice Act, created by the Legislature, is somewhat of a general outline of what that discipline is and what it takes to get a license in that discipline," says Tomino.

But it's actually each veterinarian that is licensed, not their clinic.

Regardless, that doesn't mean that their facilities don't have to meet certain criteria.

"Any business must keep up with OSHA, the DEA, the FDA," Foret explains,

Additionally, Dr. Foret says her facility abides by state by-laws that regulate things like how animals are contained, and even the types of collars they wear while at the vet.

However, Foret says many facilities have been grandfathered in to those laws.

Veternarians in Louisiana also have to adhere to continuing education requirements to remain licensed to practice.

At least 20 hours of class time are required every year.

"Veterinary medicine is changing rapidly, not only from what vaccines we used 30 years ago, to nowadays what heartworm prevention we use."

But even the most efficiently-run clinic will encounter it's share of dissatisfied clients.

Tomino says each complaint the board receives is investigated thoroughly, about 60 of those per year.

"We rely heavily on the public in helping us to regulate and give us feedback on the rules."

But no matter how many rules and regulations are put in place, Foret says the bottom line is to put yourself in your patients shoes.

"Every animal that I take care of is somebody's loved one."

Each veterinarian serves a five-year term on the state Board.

These doctors are nominated by the State Veterinary Medical Association and appointed by the governor.

In addition to the legislature, the Board is overseen by the Louisiana Attorney General's office.

There are currently about 1200 veterinarians licensed to practice in Louisiana.

Anyone can file a complaint - in writing - with the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

A form for that purpose is available on their website and Tomino says each board member is assigned a complaint to investigate.

Even so, Dr. Foret suggests, if possible, taking any concerns first to your veterinarian before making a formal complaint.

She says University Veterinary Hospital is also a member of the American Animal Hospital Association, which requires facilities to meet additional standards for medical practice.

According to their website, the AAHA serves approximately 5,500 practicing teams in the U.S. and Canada.

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