Who Can Be An Attending Veterinarian?

Last Modified: February 18, 2024
Female veterinarian examines a rabbit

The Animal Welfare Regulations define who can be an accredited veterinarian based on education, training and/or experience, and authority. 

Specifically, the regulations define an attending veterinarian as a person who has:

  • Graduated from a veterinary school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), or has a certification from the AVMA if a foreign veterinary graduate, or has equivalent formal education as determined by the Administrator,
  • Received training and/or experience in the care and management of the species being attended, and
  • Been given direct or delegated authority by the regulated facility for activities involving the veterinary care of their animals.

If the attending veterinarian does not have training or experience with every species at the facility, they are encouraged to consult with another veterinarian who has experience with these species. Individuals with expertise on a given species, such as behaviorists or personnel at facilities with a good track record for USDA compliance and animal welfare, may also be consulted. The facility may choose to employ an additional veterinarian with expertise in this species as well.

What about State licensure or accreditation?

The Animal Welfare Regulations do not require State licensure or accreditation for attending veterinarians. However, State licensure is required to issue health certificates. It is also required in most States to administer rabies vaccinations. Accreditation may also be required for issuing health certificates for interstate or international transport.

In cases where the attending veterinarian is not licensed, a facility can use a consulting veterinarian who is licensed to provide services regulated by that State under the oversight of the attending veterinarian.