Appeal decision awaited in New York teeth-floating case

Appeal decision awaited in New York teeth-floating case

Jun 01, 2008
By staff

Mineola, N.Y. — An appeal of a court decision allowing persons in New York other than veterinarians to float horses' teeth is moving forward, but probably won't be decided until this fall because of the backlog of cases, according to the attorney for the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS).

At press time, NYSVMS counsel Barbara Ahern planned to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief, arguing that all equine dental work, including teeth floating, is part of veterinary medical practice, as claimed in the state education department's appeal of the Nassau County Supreme Court ruling.

The court ruled in July 2007 in the case of Chris Brown vs. the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the New York State Education Department (which oversees professional licensing in the state) that equine teeth floating is "responsible equine health care and maintenance" outside the formal scope of veterinary medicine and can be performed by unlicensed persons.

Although the NYSVMS was not involved in the suit or the appeal, it can file the informational brief as an interested party.

Brown, who cites some training and experience in teeth floating, charged in his lawsuit that the racing board barred him from floating teeth on Thoroughbreds at state racetracks and threatened him with ejection from tracks if he attempted to continue the practice, thereby preventing him from his means of livelihood. He presented 10 witnesses to argue on his behalf, including some veterinarians.

The state appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, but meanwhile Brown and others may continue to float teeth pending outcome of the appeal.

Ahern's friend-of-the-court filing outlines why veterinary medicine is limited to licensed individuals, the guidelines DVMs follow in performing equine dental procedures and the need for medical knowledge to perform teeth floating correctly.