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Kentucky only state where veterinarians can't report clients for animal abuse

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Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 18:38:05-05

BOURBON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Melissa Bowman responded to a questionnaire from her state representative with two concerns. One of them was about the state’s barring of veterinarians from reporting their clients for animal abuse.

The Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship statute was amended in 2009.

“The intent was never to make it where you couldn’t report animal abuse,” explained Dr. Steven Wills, chairman of the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners. “But it was more about tightening up the confidentiality of medical records.”

Representative Cherlynn Stevenson submitted a pre-filed bill request in November to change the language of the law. If passed, it would open the floor for veterinarians to provide information about suspected animal abuse in good faith without fear of discipline.

“I think everybody tries to do the best they can with the way the law is right now. But I can tell you, most practicing veterinarians would like to have the freedom that if there was an issue that they could legally report it without consequence,” said Dr. Wills.

Kentucky is the only state that fully prohibits veterinarians from reporting animal abuse.

It’s an option Bowman said she wants returned to Kentucky veterinarians.

“Some of the legislators don’t deal with these issues every day and to remind them of what the needs are and how serious the issue is here is important to do,” said Bowman.