Covid Legal and Regulatory Changes

Veterinary Practices are Essential

Udpate 3/23/2020 Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.6, requiring, effective March 20, 2020 at 8 pm, that all businesses in the state reduce their in-person workforce at any work location by 100 percent. Any “essential business,” is exempt from this requirement.

The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued interim guidance dated March 22nd. Animal care operations as defined below, are been deemed essential and are exempt.

Companion animal veterinary care: Essential veterinary care is exempt.


Livestock/Equine/Captive Cervids: All veterinary care is exempt.



How do I know what is considered essential?

To help decide whether veterinary work is necessary, our lawyer recommends asking the following for each case:

  • Will unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death result if the service is delayed?
  • Does rendering the service support an essential business or function? For example, dog boarding may permit a first responder or medical worker to go to work for extended shifts.
  • Does the service support public health and/or curb infectious disease in companion animal populations? Examples are rabies and parvovirus vaccinations?

The legal requirements for vaccinations remain in place.

FDA VCPR Changes and Telehealth

The FDA has announced that it is suspending its VCPR requirements during the Covid19 crisis.

This has little impact on practice in NY State where the VCPR is not in statute but in the veterinary guidelines. Note that law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to guidelines may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of the guidelines.

We are currently preparing a podcast that will explore this in detail but the key points are:

  • Although you may not be found guilty of malpractice for providing treatment without a VCPR, a civil suit could be brought against you. The court will look at the current standards applied in the industry, such as the New York State and AVMA guidance on establishing a VCPR. If you have not followed those standards you would need to have a strong and convincing argument that the treatment was provided in an emergency situation. For example during Covid-19 an argument could be made in some particularly high-risk situations that treatment was necessary without an in-person examination, but this should not be the norm even during Covid-19

  • The State Licensing Board will hold you accountable for following the guidelines wherever possible, and if there is a variation from the guidelines you will need to be able to present convincing arguments that it was necessary.

Paid Sick Leave Laws - State and Federal

This NY Government site that has a great explanation, and can guide your employees through making their claim for Covid19 related family leave and workers compensation.
This button goes to an article by our legal advisors that explains how the new State and Federal regulations relate to one another
This button goes to a page we built early-on in the crisis to explain the new NYS laws and has some tables that could be helpful