MVMA tries to work out kinks in chiropractic legislation

Group wants to require some oversight by DVMs
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May 01, 2008

ST. PAUL, MINN. — The state veterinary community is contesting a pending bill that would allow human chiropractors to work on pets without veterinary input, saying it would be one of the "loosest" such laws in the country if passed.

The bill, strongly opposed by the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), would allow human chiropractors who have completed educational requirements to work on animal patients without a veterinarian referral. Current state law requires that chiropractors treating pets also have a veterinary medical license.

"Chiropractors want to be able to work on animals without having a veterinarian involved. Since animals aren't humans, we should first get a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian before chiropractors can work on a species for which they haven't been adequately trained," says Teresa Hershey, DVM and MVMA president.

The proposed 210 hours of training, to be approved by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, is nowhere near enough education to prepare human chiropractors for animal treatment, the MVMA argues.

"That is about five weeks of training," Hershey says. "That would be like me saying I am ready to work on humans after five weeks."

The elimination of the veterinarian referral also poses potential danger to pets, because chiropractors may not recognize that pain in certain areas or extremities could be warning signs of other, more complex, animal-health problems, she says.

"Chiropractors have said they will send a letter indicating what they've seen and what type of therapy they've done" after an initial visit, Hershey says. "But there are some owners who may not have an existing veterinarian, so those letters have nowhere to go. Our position is that we would be OK with human chiropractors working on animals, provided they first had a referral from a veterinarian. Chiropractors don't want that."

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Gary Kubly, D-Granite Falls, has been moving through House committee reviews despite veterinarians' request to include some sort of DVM oversight, Hershey says. "We are trying to get that language in, and right now it is falling on deaf ears."

In late March, the bill had second readings in both the House and Senate.

Currently, 15 states allow human chiropractors, with required training, to attend to animal patients, but 14 of them require DVM referral or direct veterinarian supervision before an animal can be treated.

If properly certified by the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, only Oklahoma chiropractors are permitted to work on animals without DVM involvement, says Adrian Hochstadt, assistant director of State and Legislative and Regulatory Affairs with the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"If this passes, we will have one of the loosest laws in the United States," Hershey says.