Texas Judge Rules for Equine Dentists

Texas District Court Judge Orlinda Naranjo sided with nonveterinarian equine dentists in that state on Nov. 9 when she ruled that the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners violated state law when it changed its rules to allow only licensed veterinarians to perform dental procedures, including teeth floating, on horses. Teeth floating is the filing or cutting of long points on a horse's teeth.

Previously, equine dentists who are not licensed veterinarians routinely performed tooth-floating procedures in Texas without violating Veterinary Medical Examiners Board regulations. But in 2006 the Board changed its rules to prohibit so-called lay equine dentists from performing the procedure.

In her recent decision Judge Naranjo ruled that the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners had failed to follow state mandated procedures for making such policy changes.

The ruling resolves a 2007 lawsuit brought by a group of Texas equine dentists who claimed that the rule change violated their constitutional right to earn a living. The suit also claimed that the Board violated Texas law when it changed the rule without first consulting the public or notifying nonveterinarian dentists.

"Basically, our case argued that the Board didn't go through the process of notification, public hearings, or allowing a public comment period," said Clark Neily, a senior attorney for the Institute of Justice, which represented the nonveterinary equine dentists it the case.

Due to the Veterans Day holiday, no one from the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners was available to comment on the case's outcome.

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.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More