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Missouri Veterinarian Board Sues Non-Vet for Floating Teeth

A Missouri woman has been sued by the Missouri Veterinarian Medical Board for floating horses’ teeth. The lawsuit claims that Missouri law defines dentistry and floating as veterinary medicine.

The defendant, Brooke Gray, trained at the Academy of Equine Dentistry in Idaho and completed a five-month apprenticeship in Colorado.

In the response filed by Gray’s attorney, Gray asserted six Affirmative Defenses rooted in rights protected under the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions.

The response also cites precedents in other licensed industries where courts have determined that certain trained practitioners in a narrow area of practice cannot be prevented from doing business just because they are not trained and licensed in broader areas in which they do not practice.

The response goes on to claim that floaters have been filing horses’ teeth for hundreds of years, the services typically being provided by non-veterinarian lay persons. It claims that such individuals may be better prepared to float teeth than most veterinarians because many receive training at specialized schools where the entire curriculum is devoted to the practice, “while floating is not part of the core curriculum at any veterinary school. Furthermore, most veterinarians who regularly float horses’ teeth learn the practice from an experienced non-veterinarian floater or at one of the specialized equine dentistry schools, not at a veterinary school.”

This may be the first test in the U.S. by any state veterinarian board to put non-veterinarian tooth floaters out of business. The outcome should be of interest to all horse dentists, veterinarians, and horsemen.

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Posted October 4, 2011