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Archives - State Agencies - State Board of Animal Health

[Authorized: NDCC Chapter 36-01]

Created by the Legislature in 1887 (S. L. 1887, Ch. 32)  the Territorial Veterinary Surgeon/State Veterinarian was an appointee of the Governor.  Duties were to inspect and prevent the spread of contagious diseases among domestic animals and to control and eradicate livestock diseases.

In 1895 (S. L. 1895, Ch. 35) the professor of veterinary science at the North Dakota Agricultural College was designated the Chief State Veterinarian. In the same year the state was divided into seven veterinary districts, each with a district veterinarian (under the supervision of the Chief State Veterinarian) who was empowered to inspect and report on livestock in the district. Also in 1895 the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners was created and consisted of three members who were appointed by the Governor for staggered three-year terms. The duty of the Board was to regulate the practice of veterinary medicine by examining and licensing doctors of veterinary medicine and suspending or revoking licenses of veterinarians who were in violation of state laws.

In 1907 the Livestock Sanitary Board was created to protect the health of domestic animals of the state; to determine and employ the most efficient and practical means of prevention, suppression, control, and eradication of dangerous contagious diseases among domestic animals in the state. The Board was authorized and empowered to make rules for the conducting of business of the Board (S. L. 1907, Ch. 169) and to carry out the rules in accordance with the North Dakota Century Code. The Board consisted of five members appointed by the Governor for staggered five-year terms. Each member was required to be a qualified elector in the state and three of the members were required to have a financial interest in breeding and maintenance of livestock in North Dakota. The other two members were veterinarians. At the first meeting members elected a president and secretary. The Board met at the State Capitol at designated times and held four regular meetings in a year. The president of the Board could call special meetings as necessary. The Board appointed the executive officer to head the department and serve as the State Veterinarian who served as a professor of veterinary science at the North Dakota Agricultural College and acted as State Bacteriologist and Consulting Veterinarian who examined diseased animals (S. L. 1907, Ch. 169). The executive director was a skilled veterinarian who was not a member of the Board and who served as the State Veterinarian.  The duties of the State Veterinarian included gathering all information possible regarding the existence of contagious and epidemic diseases of animals, executing all orders and rules made by the board, and presenting quarterly reports to the board. Legislation in 1919 (S. L. 1919, Ch. 371) required the board to protect the health of captive wildlife livestock along with domestic livestock.

The State Legislature in 1949 (S. L. 1949, Ch. 227) revised the laws relating to the Livestock Sanitary Board and increased the Board membership to seven members. Five who were qualified electors in the state and actively engaged and financially interested in the industry they represented. These groups included the Stockmen’s Association, various purebred beef cattle associations, dairy breeds associations, Swine Breeders Association, the Wool Growers Association, and the State Veterinary Medical Association. Two recommendations were submitted from each association and presented to the Governor who selected five for membership. The two remaining members were veterinarians who had graduated from a veterinary course at a recognized college or university. The terms of service were extended to seven years and if a vacancy occurred the Governor appointed someone from the proper group to complete the term (S. L. 1949, Ch. 227). 

The 1989 legislature made a number of changes to the Board. The Livestock Sanitary Board was renamed the State Board of Animal Health (S. L. 1989, Ch. 80) and became a part of the Department of Agriculture. The Commissioner of Agriculture became a member of the Board and the duties and powers were expanded. The definition for domestic animals was changed to include dogs, cats, horses, bovine animals, sheep, goats, bison, and swine. A definition for captive animals meant any wildlife held in a cage, fence, enclosure, or other man made means of confinement that limited movement within a definite boundary. These changes reflected the diversification in keeping livestock. Disease in captive wildlife as well as domestic animals was to be prevented, suppressed, controlled, and eradicated. Diseases had to be reported in captive wildlife as well as domestic animals. (S. L. 1991, Ch. 371). In 1993 the term captive wildlife was changed to nontraditional livestock (S. L. 1993, Ch. 355).

In 1995, the Governor appointed seven members who represented the North Dakota livestock associations and the chairman of the Legislative Council appointed two legislators for two year terms. One appointee was selected from the House of Representatives and the other from the Senate. Legislators could not be of the same political party (S. L. 1995, Ch. 347). After 2001 the legislators no longer served on the Board.

 Also in 1995, additional duties formerly administered by the Board relating to diseased animals, oaths, and examinations, use of moneys for the control of disease, feedlot monitoring, and registering of various types of animals became the responsibility of the Commissioner of Agriculture (S. L. 1995, Ch. 347). The position of executive director was eliminated and the Commissioner of Agriculture assumed many duties of the board  (S. L. 1995, Ch. 347) including providing clerical services for the Board. The Commissioner of Agriculture, with the consent of the Board, appointed the State Veterinarian and the Deputy Veterinarian.  The State Veterinarian and the Deputy Veterinarian had to be competent and skilled veterinarians and graduates of a veterinary medicine and surgery program from a recognized university. At the request of the Board the commissioner deputized licensed veterinarians as assistants who served during emergencies for limited periods of time (S. L. 1995, Ch. 347).
The Board of Animal Health chose a veterinarian on the staff at North Dakota State University to act as a consultant to the Board. (S. L. 1999, Ch, 317). The term of the appointment was open-ended and at the will of the board. At the discretion of the Board the Consulting Veterinarian or any laboratory approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture could make diagnostic examinations of a diseased animals, or a portion thereof, or of any substance that was forwarded for testing by the board, or the Commissioner of Agriculture, or an authorized agent. Additionally, the Board of Animal Health required licensing of nontraditional livestock dwelling in the state, except when the livestock was used for educational purposes (S. L. 1999, Ch. 317). In some cases inspections and testing of animals was required.  

The number of Board members increased to eight and included (S. L. 2001, Ch. 313) a representative of the bison industry. The Buffalo Industry Association provided a list of nominees who were actively engaged in the bison industry. A ninth member was added in 2003 (S. L. 2003, Ch. 286) and the Governor appointed a representative from the nontraditional livestock industry. Recommendations for the appointment came from a group representing nontraditional livestock. 

The Board became responsible for the control of venomous reptiles (S. L. 2005, Ch. 305) which were unlawful to own except when used in educational settings such as zoos.   Identification tags became required for mountain lions, wolves, and wolf hybrid held in captivity. Ownership of skunks and raccoons was prohibited. The duties of the Board included protecting all kinds of animals and livestock and the board took steps to prevent escape and release of animals that would endanger or compete with natural resources.

In 2007 the Legislature directed the Board to create and maintain an animal tracking data base designed to track the movement of animals. Also in an effort to eliminate brucellosis, testing samples of blood were taken from cattle, blood, and milk. All calves were required to be vaccinated. Fees collected for the brucellosis tag fee, health book fees, or any other funds were deposited in the general fund (S. L. 2007, Ch. 301). 

State law (S. L. 2009, Ch. 296) allowed the Board to certify livestock, meat products, and meat processing procedures. Certification of standards, descriptions, or specifications came at the request of the producers and processors. The Board also determined the nature and scope of the inspection and verification services necessary to provide certification.  A fee was charged for this service. 

In 2010 the State Board of Animal Health consisted of the Commissioner of Agriculture, the State, Deputy, and Assistant Veterinarian, the Consulting Veterinarian, and nine members appointed by the Governor for terms of seven years. Along with two licensed veterinarians, the members represented various livestock industries and had to be actively engaged and financially interested in the industry they represented. Appointees were chosen from the associations of the commercial beef cattle, registered beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, sheep, bison, and nontraditional livestock industry. 


1887    Creation of the office of Territorial Veterinary Surgeon.

1895    Creation of the office of Chief State Veterinarian and establishment of veterinary districts in the state. Creation of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

1905    The number of veterinarian districts and district veterinarians was boosted to twelve (S. L. 1905, Ch. 190).

1907    Creation of the State Livestock Sanitary Board (S. L. 1907, Ch. 169).

1943    Poultry Improvement Board created with six board members (S. L.1943, Ch. 4).

1949    The Livestock Sanitary Board increased to seven members who served seven year terms and included two qualified veterinarians and five who represented livestock industries in the state (S. L. 1949, Ch. 226).

1949    Livestock sales rings required health inspections and fees (S. L. 1949, Ch. 228).

1960    North Dakota Agricultural College renamed North Dakota State University.

1971    Poultry Improvement Board selected the Commissioner of Agriculture as chairman and the executive director of the Livestock Sanitary Board as a member (S. L. 1971, Ch. 91).

1985    Board members limited to serving two terms (S. L. 1985, Ch. 387).

1989    Name of Livestock Sanitary Board changed to State Board of Animal Health (S. L. 1989, Ch. 80).

1991    Definition of domestic animals expanded and definition of captive wildlife added (S. L. 1991, Ch. 371).

1993    Captive wildlife renamed nontraditional livestock (S. L. 1993, Ch. 335).

1995    Certain responsibilities of the State Board of Animal Health transferred to the Commissioner of Agriculture who presided over the committee and appointed a State Veterinarian and Deputy Veterinarian. Legislative Council appointed two legislators to the Board (S. L. 1995, Ch. 347).

1997    Poultry Advisory Board repealed (S. L. 1997, Ch. 69).

1999    Bacteriologist eliminated and the board chose a veterinarian from North Dakota State University as a consultant. Some nontraditional livestock required licenses (S. L. 1999, Ch. 317).

2001    Board increased to eight members with the addition of a representative from the bison industry (S.L. 2001, Ch. 313).

2003    Board increased to nine members with the addition of a representative of the nontraditional livestock industry (S. L. 2003, Ch. 286).

2003    Law required vaccination against brucellosis with some exceptions (S. L. 2003, Ch. 289).

2005    Except for educational purposes live venomous reptiles were not permitted in the state. A State Veterinarian had to examine them (S. L. 2005, Ch. 306).

2007    Legislature asked the Board to create and maintain an animal tracking database to track the movement of animals (S. L. 2007, Ch. 302).

2007    Commissioner of Agriculture authorized to collect fees from brucellosis tags and health books and to provide appropriations for the Board of Animal Health (S. L. 2007, Ch. 301).

2009    New chapter in North Dakota Century Code related to certification requirements for the producers and processors of livestock (S. L. 2009, Ch. 296).

2011       Legislation concerned laws relating to equine carcasses (S. L. 2011, Ch. 59) and dairy product regulations (S. L. 2011, Ch. 62).  A new section to the Century Code [NDCC 35-15] concerned appropriations for the reimbursement due to losses during official testing for livestock disease as required by the State Veterinarian (S. L. 2011, Ch. 252) and concerned the practice of pharmacy and dispensing veterinary prescription drugs (S. L. 2011 Ch. 311 and Ch. 320).

2013       Legislation included changes in the role and the definition of the State Veterinarian (S. L. 2013, Ch. 260).  A new chapter to the Code related to the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association concerning livestock branding, estray animals, registered livestock, and the licensing of livestock and wool dealers. Repeals were addressed and a study by Legislative Management was requested (S. L. 2013, Ch. 72). Also addressed were laws that concerned sale rebilling in the transaction of livestock (S. L. 2013, Ch. 73).  Two new sections were added to the Code that addressed the duties of the State Board of Animal Health with several sections were repealed or replaced concerning treatment of animals.


30602 Minutes, 1907-1923; 1932-1981.
30764 State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners Minutes, 1895-1970.
30603 Board of Correspondence, 1932-1962.
30346 State Veterinarian’s Outgoing Letters, 1907.


Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
State Board of Animal Health Website.

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