Because I am a practicing veterinarian, as well as a state representative, I feel I need to comment on the incident where a lay equine tooth floater was arrested in Oklahoma County on March 4, 2009, in the parking lot of a convenience store. This man had been sent four "cease and desist" letters from the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Yet, he injected this horse with drugs, a violation of state and federal law, and performed a procedure that has been illegal for about twenty years. There has been a lot of controversy because this practice became a felony on November 1, 2008.
In November of 2007, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) asked me to carry or author a bill for them. This agency put the language in the bill that would increase from a misdemeanor to a felony the practice of human medicine, osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, and human dentistry without a license. The OBN was solely responsible for all language of this bill. The people who have been violating the statutes related to the practice of equine dentistry without a veterinary license have not objected to this statute before it became a felony to do so.
The procedure of equine dentistry is considered an act of veterinary medicine in every state. The procedure requires the use of prescription medications to safely and effectively restrain and treat the patient. Non-licensed personnel cannot safely perform these procedures without the use of prescription medications.
In addition, non-licensed personnel do not have the appropriate medical education related to the practice of dentistry or to the safe use of medications. They have no idea of the pharmacological actions of these medications and, therefore, lack the ability to treat drug complications that may arise.
Finally, the unlicensed person does not have the ability to diagnose certain diseases that may mimic symptoms of dental problems, specifically tetanus and rabies, which have a public health significance! I believe to allow a lay person to practice equine dentistry -- unsupervised, unlicensed, and with minimal knowledge of pharmacology -- is potentially hazardous to the patient and to the public.