IFAS Internal Management Memoranda

IFAS; Protocol for Field Examination of Animals

EFFECTIVE DATE: December 1, 1993


SUBJECT: IFAS; Protocol for Field Examination of Animals

In the course of your research at IFAS, you may be afforded the opportunity to collect data from non-university animals in the field through your contacts with industry personnel. Several issues recently have been brought to our attention concerning examination by IFAS Research Faculty of animals owned by industry personnel -- issues dealing with Florida laws (F.S. 474) prohibiting the practice of veterinary medicine without a license.

The Florida Veterinary Medicine Practice Act prohibits an unlicensed veterinarian from diagnosing, prescribing or administering drugs, or treating another's animals, including performing any manual procedure for the diagnosis or treatment of sterility or infertility in animals. Several classes of individuals are exempt from this prohibition such as College of Veterinary Medicine faculty who hold veterinary faculty certificates issued by the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine. Also exempt from the prohibition are state agencies (or employees), BUT ONLY when conducting experiments and research on animals or when engaged in the study and development of methods and techniques applicable to the practice of veterinary medicine. Most of our IFAS animal research faculty fall within this latter class.

A question has been raised as to whether IFAS research faculty at the University of Florida can examine animals in the field pursuant to a research project for which they are collecting data. The question has also been raised as to whether our IFAS faculty can, upon examination of the animal, express an opinion to the owner about the animal's condition, e.g., whether the animal is pregnant.

The Board of Veterinary Medicine has recently determined that, while non-veterinary faculty can collect data from an animal in the field by physically examining the animal, the faculty member is prohibited by law from expressing an opinion as to the condition of the animal. In other words, our faculty are not permitted to engage in diagnosis. Faculty members are still encouraged to share general research findings with industry personnel but may not render an opinion on a particular animal's condition or recommend treatment.

So that we might avert any complaints by local veterinarians or industry personnel that IFAS research faculty are engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine, the following protocol should be observed in your research involving examination of non- university animals in the field:

  1. In the preliminary stages of the research project (before any data is collected) contact should be made with all private attending veterinarians of animals which may be examined in the collection of data for the project. The veterinarian(s) should be informed of the nature of the research project.

  2. Early documentation of a research project should reflect the intention of the researcher to collect data in the field and the benefits of such. Data collected involving the examination of non-university animals in the field should be in furtherance of the particular research project.

  3. Upon examination of an animal in the field, no acts of health related diagnosis (including pregnancy and fertility) or health related treatment based on that diagnosis, should be performed by IFAS research faculty. If requested by industry personnel to comment on the health related or pregnancy/sterility condition of an animal, IFAS faculty should explain that he/she is not permitted by law to do so and suggest that the owner contact a veterinarian for such information.

  4. When participating in teaching programs which may include components of health related or pregnancy diagnosis or treatment of non-university animals in the field, IFAS faculty should conduct the program in conjunction with a licensed veterinarian or veterinary faculty certificate holder from the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Research on university-owned animals may continue to be conducted as in the past. Although examination of non-university animals is permitted for the purposes of collecting data, IFAS faculty may not render to the animal's owners or custodians an opinion or diagnosis on the animal's health or pregnancy condition, nor can faculty members recommend a course of health related treatment for the animal.