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Veterinarians will undergo background checks

Action is a result of a March audit.


New veterinarians and veterinary technicians will have to undergo criminal background checks before they can obtain licenses in Oregon.

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board decided to put the new requirement into effect immediately, says Lori Makinen, the board’s executive director. The board met in Portland over the weekend.

The action will cost applicants an extra $50 for the check, which is based on the fingerprint files maintained by the FBI and is conducted by the Oregon State Police. Applicants also must pay for live-scan (inkless) fingerprinting, which is offered by 39 agencies in Oregon.

The requirement was prompted by a state audit of 17 health-related licensing boards released in March. The audit by the secretary of state disclosed that the veterinary board was just one of three that did not conduct background checks. The others are Occupational Therapy, and Speech Pathology and Audiology.

According to the audit, the veterinary board had 3,365 licensees at the end of 2013. In 2012, the board issued 248 new licenses and renewed 3,217.

For current license holders, the board will run a mass check annually through the relevant state and federal databases.

“If there is a hit, we will go back and see whether (an incident) was reported by the licensee,” Makinen said. “If it was not, we would go from there.”

The board has been in existence since 1903.

The board took formal steps to adopt new administrative rules to implement the changes. The text will be posted on the board’s website by Aug. 10.

A notice will be published in the September bulletin that the secretary of state issues for administrative rules. The notice will trigger the start of the public comment period, which will include time at the board’s next meeting Oct. 18. The board can take action after hearing public comments.

Makinen said the board also will consider rule changes expanding the role of certified veterinary technicians.

Because the new background-check requirement will prompt higher licensing fees, Makinen said the fee increases may be subject to legislative approval. Fee increases between budget cycles normally can remain in effect until lawmakers approve a new two-year budget for the agency. The current budget cycle ends in June 2015.

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