Texas Lawmakers Pass Equine Dentistry Bill

Texas lawmakers have passed legislation that defines the role of nonveterinarian equine dentists in that state and allows licensed equine dental providers to float horses' teeth under a licensed veterinarian's supervision. Floating involves filing down fine points on a horse's teeth.

The role of nonveterinarian dentists has been contested in Texas since 2006 when the state's 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 State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners violated state law when it failed to follow state mandated procedures for making such policy changes.

Passed on May 30, HB 414 allows nonveterinarians to float horses' teeth and to extract loose, mobile, or diseased teeth by hand. The bill also establishes a licensed equine dental provider (EDP) designation for nonveterinarian tooth floaters as licensed equine dental providers and places them under the supervision of the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. The bill also sets new guidelines for licensing and training requirements for EDPs. Nonveterinarian equine dentists currently practicing in Texas are considered EDPs under a grandfather clause contained in the measure.

In a written statement Elizabeth Choate, general counsel for the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, said the bill affords Texas horses and their owners "a level of protection unavailable in the past."

Veteran Texas equine dentist Carl Mitz was unavailable to comment specifically on the bill's passage, but previously said that such legislation would preserve Texas horse owners' abilities to choose who would float their horses' teeth.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign HB 414 into law later this month.

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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