Missouri Court Denies Lay Equine Dentist’s Appeal

A non-veterinarian dentist lost a bid to overturn a court ruling prohibiting her from floating teeth for pay.
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A Missouri non-veterinarian equine dentist has lost her bid to overturn a lower court’s decision prohibiting her from performing tooth floating services for pay.

"Floating" is the filing or cutting of long points on a horse’s teeth. Missouri state law forbids non-veterinarians from performing the procedure and forbids non-veterinarians from accepting payment for providing basic animal husbandry services. In 2010, the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Clinton County, Mo., veterinarian asking the court to prevent non-veterinarian tooth floater Brooke Gray from floating horse’s teeth on a fee-for-service basis on grounds that Gray was not a licensed veterinarian. The Freedom Center of Missouri represented Gray in the case. Gray’s attorney and Freedom Center Director of Litigation Dave Roland argued that the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions protect citizens’ rights to earn a living providing basic animal husbandry services. In Dec. 21, 2011, a Clinton County, Mo., Circuit Court judge granted the injunction prohibiting Gray from performing for compensation equine tooth floating or any other act considered veterinary dentistry under state law. Roland subsequently appealed the lower court’s decision.

On Feb. 13, the Missouri Appellate Court upheld the Clinton County Court’s decision. In its opinion the appellate panel found that the State can constitutionally prohibit Gray from receiving gains from her animal husbandry services on grounds that the State has "a legitimate interest in establishing a high level of competence for individuals who practice veterinary medicine," and Gray "has not met the proper statutory requirements for such practice."

The panel also found that constitutional due process does not prevent the state from preventing Gray from receiving payment for floating horses’ teeth because as a non-veterinarian, Gray does not meet proper statutory requirements to practice the procedure

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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