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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oklahoma Legislation Defines Equine Dentistry as Husbandry, not Veterinary Medicine; Passes House, on to State Senate

7 March 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at

I think you'd better watch these little video news clips from Oklahoma, and read some news from that state.

That's one way to look at this issue. I'm not sure why equine dentists would need access to cough medications and Ketamine, but there may be something in the bill that could be a loophole. And if people in Oklahoma want to lose weight quickly using a horse drug, shouldn't they try Lasix?

Across the state, a different television station has a completely different, and equally slanted, way of presenting the story to viewers:

Finally, let's hear from the vets themselves. Here's a promotional video from the state's veterinary association, with a demonstration of equine dentistry by Dr. Mark Bianchi. I wonder how many veterinarians in Oklahoma have his level of training in equine dentistry.

It's always important to tell both sides of the story. It's easy to do when the media does it for you so graphically.

Here are the basic facts: In the state of Oklahoma, HB 3202 passed by a vote of 71 to 25 in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Authored by Representative Don Armes and Senator Mike Schulz, the bill clarifies that acts of animal husbandry are not prohibited by the Veterinary Practice Act. It also requires that of the five veterinarian members of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (Board), one must be an equine practitioner and one must be a large animal practitioner.

HB 3202 also sets up a mandatory certification process for equine teeth floaters under the Board.

The bill must now go before the Senate Agriculture committee and the full Senate before reaching the Governor’s desk.

Earlier, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau passed a resolution stating "Equine dentists, chiropractors and farriers are trained professionals who provide essential services to the horse industry. They should be recognized as such and allowed to continue to practice."

According to a detailed article in The Oklahoman newspaper, which I recommend you all read, the state would require that equine dentists prove they have been through 80 hours of training. They would pay a $200 per year certification fee, and disputes or complaints would be handled by the state's agricultural board, not the veterinary board.

Click here to read a letter from Dr. Tina Neel, to state legislators; she is one of the veterinarians who is leading opposition to the bill.
It's amazing to see the resources and energy that have gone into this fight in Oklahoma. The background, of course, includes that teeth floating by non-veterinarians was made a felony, and a popular floater was arrested. He just happened to be a well-known rodeo cowboy as well. So the story made the headlines. Horse owners couldn't believe that it was a felony to run a rasp over a horse's teeth. Since then they've received a major education in the complexity of equine dentistry.

This fight has certainly been a microcosm of many political issues. I have not seen the small type in the bill, but I know that, in some way, the farriers in Oklahoma are probably affected by this proposed legislation as well. And I know full well that other states and other veterinary boards are watching what is going on in Oklahoma, as are groups like the Institute for Justice which often comes to the aid of professions and trades being regulated by legislation.

What will happen in the state senate? Will the abortion ads scare the citizenry into calling their senators and defeating the bill? Or will the don't-tell-me-what-I-can-do mentality win the day? More importantly, what will it mean, a year from now, or five years from now, to the horses and the owners in Oklahoma? There's plenty of chew on here.

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Geoff Tucker, DVM said...

Please see my blog post "An Open Letter To The Oklahoma Senate" I am an equine veterinarian floating horses for 27 years and with 43,000 floats to my name.

Anonymous said...

the bottom line

Vets don't need "floaters" grabbing for a dime that is what they feel rightfully theirs

Can't blame em costs, paying back Vet school mortgage etc