Legal Questions and Answers for the Horse Community

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Rachel Kosmal McCart
Please note that the following information is not intended to be legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Before relying on any information, you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state. See also BAEN's legal disclaimer. To submit a question for this column, email your question to Please identify yourself as well as any other parties involved so that we can be sure to avoid conflicts in interest in answering your question. We will keep all parties? identities confidential. By submitting your inquiry to this column, you grant permission for your inquiry to be published and for your inquiry to be edited for length, grammar or clarity. Due to space limitations, we cannot publish an answer to every question we receive, but we do try to provide an unpublished answer by email or telephone. View previous Q&A's in the Legal Solutions Archives.

Who Owns Vet Records?

Q: I bought a horse that later came up lame, and Id like to get a copy of his previous vet records. When I called the office of the previous vet, they said that they would need permission from the horses previous owner to release the records. I thought that health information went with the patient, not the owner. Who is right?

A: The vet's office is correct, and in fact sharing this type of information without the previous owner's consent can be a criminal offense. Section 4857 of the California Business and Professions Code provides that veterinarians cannot share information about the animal patient, the person responsible for the patient at the time of treatment or the care provided to the patient without the consent of the person responsible for the patient at the time of treatment. There are limited instances in which vets can share these types of information ?in response to a court order or subpoena, to comply with any laws, to confer with another veterinarian regarding diagnosis or treatment, to assist in the veterinarian's defense in a malpractice action or to assist law enforcement in an animal welfare matter.

About the Author: Rachel Kosmal McCart, the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, is a lifelong horsewoman and experienced lawyer. Equine Legal Solutions, the Legal Counsel with Horse Sense TM , offers a full range of legal services for the horse community, including dispute resolution, customized contracts and risk management assessment.
Copyright ©2008 Equine Legal Solutions and the Bay Area Equestrian Network. All rights reserved. The above article is the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission.