Connecticut Non-Veterinarian Tooth Floater Faces Charges

A Connecticut woman is facing charges for allegedly practicing veterinary medicine without a license.

Deputy Chief John Klett of the Berlin, Conn., Police Department, said that his department was contacted in August by the owner of a horse which sustained head injuries after experiencing a seizure allegedly resulting from a sedative administered by non-veterinarian equine dentist Shelley Lavigne. Lavigne was hired by the horse's owner to float the animal's teeth, Klett said.

Klett said Connecticut law allows lay (non-veterinarian) dentists to perform routine dental work on equines including tooth floating, but does not allow non-veterinarian dentists to use power tools or to administer sedatives.

Lavigne was later charged with five counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and one count of animal cruelty, Klett said.

Lavigne was unavailable for comment.

If found guilty, Lavigne faces penalties of fines up to $300, six months in prison, or both for each practicing veterinary medicine without a license charge. If found guilty of the animal cruelty charge, she faces maximum penalties of fines up to $1,000, up to one year in prison, or both, Klett said.

The Institute for Justice in Alexandria, Va., has represented non-veterinarian equine dentists in cases in Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri. Clark Neily, senior attorney for the Institute of Justice, declined to comment on the Connecticut case, but he did say he'd heard from Lavigne.

“I got a voice mail from her,” Neily said. “The Institute for Justice is not looking for another lay dentist case, but we will help her all we can.”

Lavigne is free on $1,000 bond, Klett said. She is slated to appear on Dec. 3 in New Britain Superior Court in connection with the charges, Klett said.

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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