Court dismisses challenge to Texas in-person veterinarian-client-patient relationship requirement

By R. Scott Nolen
Published: 15 September 2023

For a third time, a federal district court has upheld provisions of the Texas veterinary practice act requiring in-person establishment of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). The most recent ruling has come after repeated challenges from a Texas veterinarian claiming the requirement violates his First Amendment right to free speech.

In his August 15 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. wrote that the statutory requirements at the heart of the suit “represent a content-neutral regulation” of speech, and that the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners could continue to enforce the law.

“We applaud the court’s decision in this case to uphold the state’s law requiring an in-person examination or medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises to establish a VCPR,” AVMA President Dr. Rena Carlson said. “The court recognized Texas’ substantial interest in protecting the public and preventing animal health and safety risks, as well preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases. Telemedicine is an important tool to assist veterinarians in delivering care, and the AVMA embraces and promotes its use, but it should only be used after a veterinarian has established a VCPR in person.

“A properly established and maintained VCPR is one of the greatest safeguards we have available to protect animal health, the safety of the food supply, and public health. The AVMA was pleased to work with the Texas VMA in filing an amicus brief in this case.”

To see the full version of this story, visit the AVMA News website.