Court denies Arizona board's motion to dismiss massage case

Court denies Arizona board's motion to dismiss massage case

Animal massage therapists' lawsuit challenging licensing laws will move forward—plus more veterinary news from around the country.
Aug 19, 2014
By staff

Judge David Udall of the Maricopa Superior Court in Phoenix, Ariz., has denied a motion filed by the Arizona Veterinary Medical Examining Board to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by three animal massage therapists. This means that the lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of Celeste Kelly, Grace Granatelli and Stacey Kollman in March 2014 will move forward.

The three plaintiffs' suit was filed in response to the veterinary board’s enforcement of a rule stating that animal massage may be practiced only by a licensed veterinarian. The Institute for Justice is a civil liberties organization known for challenging what it sees as unfair licensing regulations across the country. 

“I am very happy that the court has recognized the validity of our position and is allowing us to continue with our lawsuit,” Kelly says in an Institute for Justice press release. “I look forward to vindicating the rights of animal massage practitioners to apply their skills and knowledge throughout the state of Arizona.”


Ronald Carsten, DVM, MS, PhD, of Glenwood Springs has been appointed to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, the governor’s office announced. Carsten practices at Birch Tree Animal Hospital using a combination of traditional and holistic medicine. His term will run through June 30, 2018.


A July electrical fire at the East Side Animal Hospital in Fort Myers caused the evacuation of 25 animals and 10 workers, according to the Southeast Florida News-Press. The animals were taken to area hospitals that volunteered their assistance and pet owners were notified. Adrienne Gitturan, East Side's office manager, told the News-Press that structural damage had been done and she didn’t know when staff would be allowed to return to the building.


The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has announced that Thomas W. Vickroy, PhD, pharmacologist and veterinary college faculty member, has been named executive associate dean of the college. His appointment will be effective as of August 1.

Vickroy’s primary responsibilities will include implementation of strategic initiatives, human resource management, leadership development, facilities and space, and institutional evaluation and reporting, according to the university.


The Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board has passed a requirement, effective immediately, for new veterinarians and technicians to undergo criminal background checks before they can obtain their licenses, according to the Portland Tribune.

The check will cost an extra $50, which is based on fingerprint files maintained by the FBI and conducted by the Oregon state police. Applicants must also pay for inkless fingerprinting. The requirement was prompted by a state audit of 17 health-related licensing boards, which found that the veterinary board was one of three that did not conduct background checks, according to the Tribune.

For current licensees the board will run a mass check annually through state and federal databases.


Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory has become the first lab in Texas able to test samples for foot-and-mouth disease, according to the Bryan, Texas, Eagle. Lab officials mapped a response during a scenario simulating an outbreak of the disease. The plan can be used with any foreign disease, but foot-and-mouth was chosen because of its rapid spread.

Foot-and-mouth is not commonly transmitted to humans, but an outbreak in Texas livestock would be detrimental to the cattle industry, officials say. If the disease is found anywhere in the United States, it's likely that international trade of cattle and other animals susceptible to the disease would be cut off, the Eagle reports.

The lab will be able to process more than 3,000 samples a day and is part of a network of labs across the country that can test additional samples. 


Houston authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding the pet owners who hired a man posing as a veterinarian and whose treatment may have harmed animals, according to the Houston Chronicle. In the past year, 26-year-old Wilfredo Gutierrez, a veterinary technician, may have treated about 50 pets with improper medications, vaccinations and procedures.

According to the Chronicle, Gutierrez pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of unlawful practice of medicine and has been charged with felony drug possession; authorities believe he took morphine from his employer or purchased it off the Internet.

While working at an undisclosed Houston veterinary office, Gutierrez ran DogSmart Veterinary Services, Wilfredo Gutierrez Pet Services and Mobile Vet Vaccinations. He made house calls to examine dogs and cats but also retrieved animals for spay and neuter procedures and then returned them.

Authorities are not sure if any animals died because of the fake veterinarian's actions. They first found out about the unsanctioned procedures when neighbors called police about an injured dog that was not receiving proper medical attention, one that had previously been seen by Gutierrez. The dog turned out to have a broken leg, which Gutierrez had treated with an elastic bandage. Suspicions about this patient led to an undercover investigation with the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, according to the Chronicle.


Luc Dufresne, DVM, senior director of health assurance at Seaboard Foods, will receive the Science in Practice award for his work leading swine health management at Seaboard Foods, according to a University of Minnesota release. Dufresne will receive the award at the 2014 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference September 15.

The Science in Practice award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated or shows promising research productivity in production and disease and who has made contributions to the creation and dissemination of new knowledge for the betterment of the swine industry. The award honors a veterinarian whose major responsibility is moving research into the field, rather than creation of the research.

“Dr. Dufresne has exemplified the requirements of the Leman Science in Practice award his entire career,” says Robert Morrison, PhD, professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in the release. “He has consistently pursued science-based solutions and used data to guide his decisions. He shares his observations and conclusions with the industry and encourages others to do the same. This attitude has been most apparent in the last 18 months as he and his employer, Seaboard Foods, have led the industry response to the PED virus.”