Lay Equine Dentist Files Veterinary Practice Act Lawsuit in Minnesota

The Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter has announced in a press release that it is challenging the state’s veterinary licensing process on behalf of a lay (non-veterinarian) equine dentist who is referred to as a “teeth floater.” Chris

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The Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter has announced in a press release that it is challenging the state’s veterinary licensing process on behalf of a lay (non-veterinarian) equine dentist who is referred to as a “teeth floater.” Chris Johnson, the lay dentist, filed suit Aug. 16 in Minnesota’s First Judicial District in Glencoe, Minn. (55 miles west of Minneapolis), to defend his right to practice the trade.


The Institute reports that the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine “has put him (Johnson) out of business by demanding that he either become a licensed veterinarian…or pass an exam that has never been offered in Minnesota,” referring to the International Association of Equine Dentistry (IAED) test. The Board lobbied in 2005 against legislation that would have opened the market to competition from providers such as Johnson.


“The occupation of a horse teeth floater offers a lifetime of opportunity for rural Minnesotans who, like Chris Johnson, love horses,” said Lee McGrath, executive director of the Institute, which is a public interest law firm that reports it has already scored major successes by striking down government-imposed barriers to entrepreneurship. “But Minnesota’s laws irrationally classify horse teeth floating as the practice of veterinary medicine…and subject Chris to fines and even jail time for peacefully practicing his craft.”


The Institute reports that in 2004, Minnesota’s Board of Veterinary Medicine issued a cease-and-desist order to the Johnson family instructing them to stop floating teeth or face up to $3,000 in fines and one year in prison for practicing veterinary medicine without a license. Since November 2004, Johnson has worked in a job unrelated to horses

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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