Phil Boerner: 916-649-0599 (California Veterinary Medical Association)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CVMA APPLAUDS COURT DECISION ON
WEST HOLLYWOOD LAWSUIT
Decision affirms powers of state consumer protection boards
Los Angeles:On November 30, 2005, the California Superior Court in Los Angeles ruled in favor of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and against the city of West Hollywood, California in a case that drew international attention.
The CVMA sued the city of West Hollywood in March 2005 to overturn the city’s ordinance banning animal declawing, except for defined “therapeutic” purposes, within city limits. The November 30 ruling upheld the CVMA’s assertion that local ordinances may not infringe on licensed professionals’ state-granted rights to practice within the scope of their licenses. The ruling affirms the authority of the state’s regulatory framework and the powers of state consumer protection boards.
“Judge Bascue’s ruling sends a clear message to West Hollywood and all other California cities that local municipalities cannot pass ordinances that ignore the authority of California’s state licensing and regulatory oversight boards,” said CVMA President Eric Weigand, DVM.
The practice of veterinary medicine is highly regulated in California, and the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act specifically regulates what veterinarians may or may not do within the scope of practicing veterinary medicine. The California legislature has delegated to the California Veterinary Medical Board the authority to carry out and enforce the provisions of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act.
“The court reached the proper ruling,” said CVMA attorney Daniel Baxter of Wilke Fleury Hoffelt Gould & Birney, LLP. “We will now take steps to ensure that the ordinance is rescinded and that the city refrains from enforcement thereof.”
It’s important to have one set of rules regulating the practice of veterinary medicine in California. If each one of the 478 California cities had its own set of rules, it would be confusing for pet owners and difficult for veterinarians to provide care for pets. Ultimately, this could create a chaotic situation.
“Decisions regarding the practice of veterinary medicine should be left to veterinarians, who have the best interests of the patient and animal owners in mind,” added Weigand. “The court’s decision ensures that pets in West Hollywood and throughout California will receive the best care available, as consistently regulated by California law.”
The CVMA is not alone in disputing cities that pass local ordinances that conflict with state regulations. The California Department of Consumer Affairs, which regulates veterinarians in California, issued an opinion a year ago that emphasized local governments are prohibited from enacting legislation in an area already regulated by a state agency.
For more information about this press release, or to schedule interviews with CVMA spokespersons, contact Phil Boerner at the CVMA at (916) 649-0599. To access past CVMA press releases, visit the CVMA Media Center in the News Room at www.cvma.net.