It is not ethical for a veterinarian to enter into agreements with clients which provide that the fee to be charged for certain services will be contingent upon a horse’s successful performance on the racetrack or in the show ring. Such an agreement is unethical in that the veterinarian must at all times render the ultimate in assistance to the patient and charge a fee appropriate for the services rendered. The veterinarian’s fee is not based on a subsequent event, but directly connected with the services rendered. There are no guarantees in medicine, expressed or implied.

A fee contingent upon the outcome of a race gives the veterinarian a vested interest in the horse, and the racing rules in many states preclude such practices. In other states where the rules do not exist, such vested interest will be considered as a conflict of interest with the owners of all other horses in the race.

This is not to be confused with attempted surgical repair or treatment of cases with poor prognosis if such efforts promise educational benefit, and of cases that would have been destroyed for economic reasons. In those cases, it is proper for a veterinarian to share efforts on a contingency basis with the client.

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Resource Type

  • Position Statements


  • Ethics

Publish Date

January 1, 2010