Texas Bill Would Clarify Equine Dentistry Issues

Texas lawmakers are pondering legislation that would define the role of nonveterinarian equine dentists in that state.

Current state law does not prohibit nonveterinarian dentists from floating horses' teeth. But defining just how much work nonveterinarian dentists can perform on horses has been an issue in Texas since 2006 when the Veterinary Medical Examiners Board changed its rules to prohibit lay equine dentists from performing procedures, including teeth floating. Last year, a Texas District Court judge ruled that the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners violated state law when it failed to follow state mandated procedures for making such policy changes.

The proposed legislation, HB 3637, would amend the Texas Agriculture Code to define an equine dental technician as a person who performs teeth floating on horses without the use of sedatives, tranquilizers, or general anesthetic drugs. It would also establish a registration system for nonveterinarian tooth floaters working in the state.

Loris Jones, spokesperson for the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, said the group could offer no official opinion on the bill.

"We can't comment," she said. "We're a resource. They (members of the Legislature) make the rules, we do what we're told."

No one from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association was available for comment.

Lay dentist Carl Mitz said both nonveterinarian equine dentists and horse owners would benefit from the bill's passage.

"It would mean I could keep my job of 20-plus years and that horse owners would continue to have the choice about who would float their horses' teeth," he said.

HB 3637 remains pending in the Agriculture Committee of the Texas House of Representatives.

About the Author

Pat Raia

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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