Let me pick up some of the loose threads and ideas from Health Certificate that can probably use a little more discussion and let’s try to pull those threads a little tighter together…

First and always important is the concept that the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (document) is a statement that an appropriately credentialed official has reviewed the animals listed and described on the document, and has found no signs of illness or disease. It is NOT a guarantee that the animals are healthy.

Anyone out there remember the story of Typhoid Mary? I’m not going to debate the accuracy of any of the various tales about her. But my point is that animals can certainly appear healthy and that does give credence and confidence they ultimately are healthy. But my no means is that a certainty. So – it’s a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.

In instances where a completed CVI is an official document (e.g. being used to fulfill regulatory requirements of some nature) the veterinarian doing the actual inspecting and signing is required to be “accredited” in the state in which the certificate (and review of the associated animals) is completed. So what does accredited mean? And how do you know?

Let me start with a schematic:

CVI << Accredited Veterinarian << Licensed Vet << Eligible Vet << Graduate of Accredited Vet School. . .

The long drawn-out version of that flowchart is that a vet school must be accredited (a years-long process) for its graduates to be able to be licensed (or they wind up going through a bunch of extra hurdles after graduation and most folks feel they have already paid for and experienced enough of that fun.)

The graduate must then pass the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Exam).

If the NAVLE score is high enough (different states have different minimum scores), the person then is eligible to take a state examination for whichever state s/he hopes to be able to practice in. (This is the actual “license” being referred to in the phrase “licensed veterinarian”.) Now we have a person able to legally practice veterinary medicine in the state. (The person repeats this last step for each state s/he wishes to be licensed in.)

Even after all that, the vet can’t legally write a CVI though. If a licensed vet wishes to be accredited, s/he then must go through another round of training (hours, not years this time) and continuing training (later on) to maintain the accreditation. And since accreditation is a joint state-federal program, the training is usually conducted by members of both the state veterinarian’s office as well as the federal area office.

Now we have an “accredited veterinarian” which means s/he can act as an agent for the government. A significant aspect of accreditation is to satisfy the “other guy” (e.g. the regulatory official in the receiving state) that the person doing the reviewing of animals and signing the document is qualified and competent to do so. This is actually an international issue, not simply interstate. So accreditation is a big deal particularly among veterinarians working with livestock.

This seems like a good point to break. Next time we’ll pick up the Identification aspect of the CVI, particularly official identification, and maybe a little bit about the newly published federal rule on Animal Disease Traceability. I’ll also try to work in more of the ramifications of not playing according to the rules when it comes to CVIs and interstate movements.

Enjoy the ride.

Health Certificates

Happy 2013 to all! I hope it’s started well for each of you.

First topic of this year is Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or CVI. Some of you might recognize the term “health certificate” if I said that instead.

And hopefully that will be the last time you hear or use that term. Why? Because there is no guarantee of health, expressed or implied. And that’s why the title of the document is Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Which is to say that a veterinarian (in most cases if not all, an accredited veterinarian; I’ll spend sometime on the accredited aspect later on) has inspected the animal/s of concern and certifies that no signs of illness or disease has been observed.

I hope everyone appreciates that’s a very different statement than “certifying health”.

Now that we’ve covered the basic purpose of the CVI, let’s talk about some of the particular aspects of the document, beginning with the very important point that each state defines its own CVI.

Next is the concept of from Point A to Point B – an origin as well as a destination must be listed, along with the person/s or entity/ies sending and receiving, and usually the transporter as well.

Depending on the states involved (as well as the prevailing disease situations), generally a CVI is valid for 30 days from issue date (and from that Point A to Point B with any diversion making the CVI invalid.)

A fair amount of identifying information concerning the animal/s is involved. Species, quantities, age, breeds, class (e.g. breeding, show, etc.) Individual official identification along with description of animals involved is required. (More on what constitutes official ID later.)

There are also usually a few areas that pertain to tests – the types, the labs, the dates, as well as the actual results. Additionally there are areas for regulatory status information of the origin area as well as the herd/flock/band.

Lastly and most importantly are the areas for signatures. One is for the vet to certify her/his review/inspection. The other is for the owner/agent to certify that the animals shipped are those that were certified and listed on the CVI.

Key Point – in most states, signing this document is equivalent to signing an affidavit. Doing so under false pretenses or in any way fraudulent is a felony-level crime in AZ. And that can have very far-reaching consequences.

I’ll get into that area along with tying up some of the loose threads in the next post.

Enjoy the ride.