Senate Study Bill 1038 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1providing for the conduct of licensed veterinarians when
2involved in certain legal matters involving the alleged
3mistreatment of animals, including by providing for immunity
4from administrative, civil, or criminal liability when
5acting in good faith; providing for administrative, civil,
6or criminal liability when not acting in good faith; and
7making penalties applicable.
1   Section 1.  Section 169.3, Code 2023, is amended by adding
2the following new subsection:
3   NEW SUBSECTION.  8A.  “Peace officer” means the same as
4defined in section 801.4.
5   Sec. 2.  Section 169.13, Code 2023, is amended by adding the
6following new subsection:
7   NEW SUBSECTION.  1A.  A licensed veterinarian immune
8from administrative, civil, or criminal liability under
9section 169.18A is not subject to disciplinary action under
10this chapter. Any information disclosed by a licensed
11veterinarian acting under section 169.18A is not subject to a
12confidentiality requirement that would otherwise be applicable
13to the licensed veterinarian under this chapter.
14   Sec. 3.  NEW SECTION.  169.18A  Immunity — limitations —
15administrative, civil, and criminal liability.
   161.  A licensed veterinarian, when acting in good faith and
17in conformance within the minimal standard of acceptable and
18prevailing practice of veterinary medicine as defined in rules
19adopted by the board, is immune from administrative, civil,
20or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or
21imposed as a result of the licensed veterinarian doing any of
22the following:
   23a.  Cooperating with a peace officer in a matter relating
24to the alleged conduct of a licensed veterinarian’s client
25that, if true, would constitute an offense punishable as a
26misdemeanor or felony under chapter 717B, 717C, or 717D. The
27licensed veterinarian may provide such cooperation in any
28manner that assists the peace officer, including but not
29limited to making a report to a peace officer or providing the
30peace officer with information regarding the alleged conduct.
   31b.  Cooperating with a local authority or law enforcement
32officer, as each is defined in section 717B.1, to rescue a
33threatened animal as provided in section 717B.5.
   34c.  Participating in a dispositional proceeding or complying
35with a court order arising from the dispositional proceeding
-1-1as provided in section 717B.4.
   2d.  Providing competent and truthful evidence in an
3administrative, civil, or criminal case relating to another
4person’s conduct that, if true, would constitute an offense
5punishable as a misdemeanor or felony under chapter 717B, 717C,
6or 717D. The licensed veterinarian may provide answers in a
7deposition or interrogatory, testimony, record as defined in
8section 554.1201, or other physical evidence.
   92.  A licensed veterinarian who knowingly makes a false
10report to a peace officer or knowingly provides the peace
11officer with false information regarding a client’s alleged
12conduct as provided in subsection 1, paragraph “a”, is not
13acting in good faith, is subject to disciplinary action by the
14board, is civilly liable for damages proximately caused by
15making such report or providing such information to a peace
16officer, and is guilty of a simple misdemeanor.
17   Sec. 4.  Section 670.4, subsection 1, Code 2023, is amended
18by adding the following new paragraph:
19   NEW PARAGRAPH.  0n.  A claim based on an act by a licensed
20veterinarian when assisting a municipality in rescuing a
21threatened animal as provided in section 717B.5, if the
22licensed veterinarian is immune from administrative, criminal,
23or civil liability as provided in section 169.18A, subsection
26The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
27the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
29CIVIL, AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY. This bill amends provisions
30in Code chapter 169, the Iowa veterinary practice Act, by
31providing that a licensed veterinarian who acts in good faith
32is immune from administrative, civil, or criminal liability
33for actions involving cases of alleged animal misconduct
34under several Code chapters. Code chapter 717B prohibits
35various forms of animal mistreatment, including abuse,
-2-1neglect, torture, and injuring or interfering with a police
2service dog; Code chapter 717C prohibits bestiality; and Code
3chapter 717D prohibits animal contest events. The licensed
4veterinarian is shielded from civil or criminal liability for
5cooperating in a criminal investigation including by making a
6report to a peace officer or providing the peace officer with
7information regarding a client’s conduct; assisting a county
8or city in rescuing a threatened animal; participating in a
9civil proceeding to determine the disposition of an animal or
10complying with a court order arising from that proceeding; or
11providing evidence in an administrative, civil, or criminal
12proceeding. However, the bill also provides that a licensed
13veterinarian who knowingly makes a false report to a peace
14officer or knowingly provides the peace officer with false
15information regarding a client’s conduct is not acting in good
16faith, is subject to disciplinary action by the board, is
17civilly liable for damages proximately caused by making such
18report or providing such information to a peace officer, and
19is guilty of a simple misdemeanor. A simple misdemeanor is
20punishable by confinement for no more than 30 days and a fine
21of at least $105 but not more than $855.
   22A veterinarian is defined as any person who has received a
23doctor of veterinary medicine degree or its equivalent from an
24accredited or approved college of veterinary medicine (Code
25section 169.3(11)) as compared to a licensed veterinarian
26who also meets the exam requirements to practice veterinary
27medicine or as otherwise prescribed by the board (Code sections
28169.9 and 169.10).
   29BACKGROUND. The offenses in Code chapter 717B apply
30generally to all nonhuman vertebrate animals, including dogs
31and cats, unless specifically excluded. It does not apply to
32livestock (Code chapter 717); game, fur-bearing animals, fish,
33reptiles, or amphibians (Code chapter 481A), unless such animal
34is owned, confined, or controlled by a person; or nongame
35animals declared to be a nuisance by the natural resource
-3-1commission (Code chapter 481A). A local authority (city or
2county) may rescue a threatened animal and a court may provide
3for the disposition of that animal. A threatened animal
4is an animal that has been abused, neglected, or tortured.
5Code chapter 717C applies to any nonhuman vertebrate animal
6without exception and the offense involves a person’s sexual
7contact with the animal. Code chapter 717D also applies to any
8nonhuman vertebrate animal without exception and the offense
9involves a person participating in an event organized for
10entertainment or profit where any animal is injured, tormented,
11or killed.