Attention King County Veterinarians!

Regional Animal Services of King County is considering an ordinance that will require veterinarians to disclose private client information to the County for purposes of raising revenue by pursuing pet owners who don’t license their pets.

You and your clients should oppose these efforts!


Medical Records are Confidential: Veterinarians are legally obliged to maintain records for each animal in their care. The contents of those records are confidential and our clients consider them to be privileged information.

Damage of Doctor-Client Relationship: The basis of veterinary medical practice is the doctor-client relationship. Trust is an essential element in the relationship and confidentiality is a cornerstone of medical ethics across all specialties. People expect and need to know that what they tell their veterinarian is held in confidence. This trust enables them to provide complete and truthful histories and elect care for all of the animals under their supervision. Forcing veterinarians to divulge personal information will undermine this confidence.

Decreased Compliance with Rabies Vaccination: This proposal will impact the delivery of veterinary services. Faced with involuntary reporting of personal information to the government, some clients will refuse vaccination. Many clients own more than the legal limit of animals and will not present them for care if they know that their veterinarian will be forced to “turn them in.” This will result in fewer animals getting care, including rabies immunizations that keep the human population safe.

Financial Harm to Veterinarians: Weakening the ties between doctors and their clients will do real harm to the veterinarians in King County. Clients who want rabies vaccines for their pets can simply take them “across the border,” or to mobile parking-lot clinics that provide vaccines and nothing else. The veterinarian won’t just lose income from the vaccination given elsewhere, but that client may well “skip” or go elsewhere for the check-up and well-pet care.

Ethical Concerns: Finally, the medical record is the property of the veterinarian who creates it, and we veterinarians accept a powerful ethical obligation to protect that record and the confidential information that it contains.

Let’s Work Together: Veterinarians want to work together with King County to provide important services to our community. We hope that the County will seek to work with us in cooperative ways that benefit all of us. Forcing veterinarians to report client information to the County is not the solution.

Take these steps to help avert this plan:

  1. Veterinarians and staff should contact County Council Members and Council Executive Dow Constantine. Contact information is below.
  2. Download and place a petition in your reception area and ask clients to sign it. Print additional copies first so you can get multiple signatures. When enough signatures have been collected, fax directly to WSVMA Headquarters at (425) 396-3192 no later than Friday, Sept 27, 2013 at 9 am.
  3. Use this sample letter to send to your council member or for talking points.

Contact information for King County Executive and King County Council Members:

Don’t know which district you’re in? Go to Find My District and input your address.


In the News:

Sept 17, 2013, King County considers requiring veterinarians to rat out their pet owners
Sept 19, 2013, Could your veterinarian be a snitch?

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