Controversial Ad Targets Oklahoma Equine Dentist Bill

A group of veterinarians in Oklahoma are hoping a controversial advertisement will convince state legislators to kill a bill that would allow horse owners and their employees to buy and administer veterinary prescription sedatives used in teeth floating procedures.

HB 3202 also amends the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act to allow individuals who are not licensed veterinarians to float horses' teeth if they meet state certification requirements.

The advertisement that appeared in Monday's edition of The Oklahoman newspaper links the measure to illegal use of the drugs clenbuterol, a steroid allegedly misused for weight loss, and ketamine, a tranquilizer sometimes used as a "date-rape drug." Four veterinarians who oppose the bill sponsored the ad, which claims the legislation would facilitate illegal drug sales.

"There are unscrupulous people in every profession," said J. Mike Johnston, DVM, one of the advertisement's sponsors. "Someone could become certified and never float a tooth, just to be able to get their hands on the drugs,"

The state's House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this month. The state Senate is expected to vote on the measure later this week.

If passed, the measure would be the third change to Oklahoma's veterinary practice act since 2008 when an amendment established felony charges for anyone practicing equine dentistry without a veterinary license. Lawmakers stripped the felony charges from the act in 2009 after professional rodeo rider Bobby Griswold was charged with the felony. Griswold, who graduated from an equine dental school but is not a veterinarian, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to serve eight months probation.

Griswold said equine dentists do not routinely use the drugs in their work. The advertisement represents some veterinarians' final effort to prohibit dentists from practicing in Oklahoma, he 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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