Equine Massage Therapists Sue Arizona Vet Board

Three nonveterinarian equine massage therapists in Arizona are suing that state's veterinary medical examining board on grounds that the board is violating their right to earn a living.

Nico Perrino, spokesman for the Institute for Justice (a nonprofit public interest law firm based in Arlington, Va.), said Celeste Kelly, Grace Granatelli, and Stacey Kollman are all nonveterinarian equine message therapists certified by private organizations.

In a complaint filed March 5 in Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County, the women allege that the Arizona Veterinary Medical Examining Board (AVMEB) is violating their civil rights by requiring equine message therapists to hold a board-issued veterinary license in order to legally perform massage therapy services on horses. The women also allege that they risk board-enforced penalties, including fines and jail time, for each illegal equine message therapy session they provide.

Attorney Diana Simpson, who represents the women in the case, said Arizona's licensing system shuts out experienced equine therapists while "forcing owners to pay more for extra care they don't want.”

AVMEB Executive Director Victoria Whitmore declined comment on the case because she had not seen the lawsuit.

The lawsuit remains pending.

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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