Someone recently asked me if he had a case against an equine surgery clinic that told his local vet during a telephone conversation to not send them the mare because they did not have room for her at the clinic. The mare died 4 hours later of colic complications, and the owner stated that she would have lived if the vet clinic had admitted her and performed colic surgery. The mare in that case was not a current patient of the clinic. The owner would not have a valid claim against the clinic in that case.
The decision of whether to accept an animal as a patient is at the sole discretion of a veterinarian. This rule is set forth in Article II.E. of the the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the American Veterinary Medical Association, which applies to all veterinarians in the United States. The Texas Rules of Professional Conduct for veterinarians codifies that rule for vets practicing in Texas. Therefore, even in emergency situations, vets do not have to take your horse if, for example, you cannot pay for the treatment or they simply do not have time to treat your horse.
For a vet to be potentially liable to a horse owner for injury or death of their horse, a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must first exist. The VCPR is established when all of the following conditions are met:
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