New Virginia law: Non-veterinarian horse dentists regulated as of July 1, 2007

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According to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Commonwealth of Virginia's General Assembly session recently passed a law to regulate the practice of equine dentistry performed by someone other than a veterinarian. If I read the paperwork correctly, the governor has approved the law as well.

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The new law states that only a registered equine dental technician (EDT) or a licensed veterinarian can work on a horse's teeth professionally. It also outlines what procedures require a vet's supervision, or must be performed by a veterinarian, when a horse is being worked on by an EDT.

A very interesting part of the new law is that International Association of Equine Dentists certification is listed as a requirement for non-veterinarians and non-veterinary technicians but that the exclusion to the certification is if the applicant can prove that he or she has been performing equine dentistry for five or more years and has written recommendations from horse-specialist veterinarians.

There is some vague language in the bill, such as the words "board-approved" training program that may be defined in some document other than what is shown on the Internet. It's also not clear whether the approving veterinarians must be licensed in Virginia, nor does it clearly lay out how the law will be enforced, although there may be additional paperwork attached.

To be specific, it reads: The Board may register a person as an equine dental technician who meets the following criteria: (i) satisfactory evidence that he is of good moral character, (ii) recommendations from at least two licensed veterinarians with practice bases that are at least fifty percent equine, and (iii) evidence that he holds current certification from the International Association of Equine Dentistry or a Board-approved certification program or has satisfactorily completed a Board-approved training program.

The Board may register individuals who have not completed a Board-approved training program or do not hold a current certification from the International Association of Equine Dentistry or a Board-approved certification program if they have engaged in acts considered to be those of an equine dental technician as set forth in subsections C and D of this section for at least 5 years and provide the following: (i) satisfactory evidence of length of time of practice, (ii) recommendations from at least two licensed veterinarians with practice bases that are at least fifty percent equine, and (iii) proof of continued competency satisfactory to the Board.

The law prohibits non-veterinarians from using power tools in a horse's mouth and is quite specific what a technician can and cannot do without a veterinary license.

Read the complete law here.

The legislator who sponsored the bill has a web page on the bill where you can read its history. This bill flew through the state legislature in 90 days and passed unanimously every time it came up for a vote.

The new law takes effect on July 1, 2007.

Image courtesy of Digital Equus: Introduction to Equine Dentistry by B.A. Rucker DVM. Click here to order.