Yet arguments in the lawsuit beg for the board's public attention. Like the Minnesota case, filed on behalf of one lay equine
dentist fighting to float teeth, the Texas litigation questions whether state regulators' charge to protect public health
is being realized by largely limiting equine dentistry to DVMs. Teeth-floating techniques often aren't touched on in veterinary
schools, and such questions rarely appear on the National American Veterinary Licensing Examination.
McGrath, who's also litigating the Minnesota case, argues that without required education on the topic, on-the-job-trained
lay dentists are not less qualified than most veterinarians. He points out that allowances for lay dentists occur in a handful
of states, including Florida, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Vermont, which excuse floaters from regulation.
"Consumers don't want veterinarians to fence out dental practitioners who are often the most skilled at doing this type of
work," he says.
Copeland argues that without regulatory oversight of lay practice, consumers have no recourse for malpractice cases. TVMA
is responding by compiling a public list of Texas practitioners who perform equine dentistry to be published on the association's
Web site. With their advanced medical knowledge, veterinarians remain the best practitioners of equine dentistry, he explains.
"I wasn't taught entertainment law in school. But if I wanted to practice it, I could. There's a state bar out there to make
sure if I mess up they can do something about it. The same goes for veterinary medicine," Copeland says.
McGrath counters that such oversight should be left up to consumers who have a direct stake in their animals' protection.
"A horse owner concerned about the health of his animal is a far better regulator than nine people sitting in Austin acting
to guard the economic interest of elitist veterinarians," he states.