CVMA monitors Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine appointment

CVMA monitors Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine appointment

By now, many Colorado veterinarians may have heard about the controversy regarding a new appointee to the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine. In July, Governor Polis appointed Ms. Ellen Kessler, a self-described animal rights activist with an active social media presence, to the open public-at-large position on the board.

Some CVMA members have expressed concern that Ms. Kessler will cause the state board to direct the veterinary profession in ways that are contrary to the needs of Colorado’s livestock industry.

While CVMA respects the effort made to appoint diverse points of view to the state board, CVMA is disappointed in the appointment of a person whose online presence and personal activist activities are not consistent with the professional conduct expected of veterinarians by the board. CVMA members hold themselves to a high standard and code of conduct and are held to a high standard of professional conduct and integrity by the state board’s Veterinary Medicine Rules and Regulations, Rule 1.18 (A). CVMA expects state board appointees to reflect a similar level of civility, respectability, and professionalism.

CVMA will continue to monitor Ms. Kessler’s contributions during meetings of the state board, as it does for any issues that have the potential to impact veterinary medicine in Colorado. CVMA attends every public meeting of the board and remains prepared to take appropriate action to represent the interests of the veterinary profession.

Anyone is welcome to attend meetings of the state board – if you are interested in attending a board meeting, visit the DORA website and look for the calendar widget in the righthand column to see upcoming meetings.

Some veterinarians may not fully understand the specific roles and purposes of various governmental bodies that touch veterinary medicine. Below is a brief explanation of how government touches veterinary medicine in Colorado.

The role of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine (Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies) is to protect consumers.

In the context of this appointment, it is important to call attention to the legal and procedural provisions that govern and provide structure for the work of the state board. The State Board of Veterinary Medicine (in the Department of Regulatory Agencies) establishes and enforces professional standards, rules, and policies to ensure that veterinary care is provided by qualified persons. The structure and operation of the state board is carefully managed by DORA staff who attend meetings along with attorneys. Together they monitor proceedings for legal requirements and proper ethical procedure.

All positions on the state board are unpaid volunteer positions. The veterinarians on the state board represent the diversity of veterinary medicine in Colorado. Of the five veterinarians now on the state board, two are from the Western Slope – one of them is an equine practitioner; there is a mixed animal practitioner from Pueblo; and two small animal practitioners come from the metro area. There are also two public members. The state board attends to matters of licensure, professional standards, consumer complaints, and discipline. Matters of food animal policy do not come before the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

The role of the governor in this context is to make appointments to boards and commissions.

By law, the governor makes appointments to many boards and commissions that serve various functions across Colorado. The governor can also terminate a board member’s service.

The role of the State Veterinarian (Colorado Department of Agriculture) is to protect the health of the livestock herd.

In contrast to the consumer protection mission of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado’s State Veterinarian (in the Department of Agriculture) is responsible for maintaining the health and integrity of the livestock herd to provide a safe product for the public. The Commission and Department of Agriculture strengthens and advances Colorado agriculture, promotes a safe and high-quality food supply, protects consumers, and fosters responsible stewardship of the environment and natural resources.

The role of the State Public Health Veterinarian (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) is to protect public health.

Colorado’s State Public Health Veterinarian is tasked with protecting public health, including controlling transmission of zoonotic diseases that may pass from animals to humans. While the public health veterinarian is not housed within the same department as the state veterinarian, both offices often work closely together to protect both human and animal health.

The role of CVMA is to monitor activity as it relates to veterinary medicine in Colorado, and to ensure fair representation of veterinarians.

CVMA will continue to attend every state veterinary board meeting and stands ready to take appropriate action if needed. Anyone is welcome to attend meetings of the state board – if you are interested in attending a board meeting, visit the DORA website and look for the calendar widget in the righthand column to see upcoming meetings.

Looking ahead from a legislative standpoint, CVMA is preparing to participate in the Veterinary Practice Act sunset review process to ensure concerns of the veterinary community are appropriately represented during the process. CVMA actively provides input on the veterinary guidelines and the rules set by the state board, thus ensuring veterinarians have a voice in the process.