Arizona Animal Massage

Kelly vs. Whitmore
Arizona Animal Massage 

Can the government take away someone’s job for no good reason?

That is the question to be answered by a major constitutional lawsuit filed by three animal massage therapists and the Institute for Justice in Arizona. The lawsuit challenges the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board’s (Vet Board) irrational and anti-competitive requirement that animal massage therapists become licensed veterinarians.

Celeste Kelly, Grace Granatelli and Stacey Kollman are three Arizona entrepreneurs who decided to turn their love of animals into successful businesses. Each spent hundreds of hours learning about animal anatomy and developing massage techniques to obtain private certifications in animal massage.

But they stand to lose everything. According to the Vet Board, Celeste, Grace and Stacey are criminals for practicing their craft without a veterinary license, even though their craft is just a massage. The consequences of failing to comply are severe—animal massage therapists face up to six months in jail and fines of $3,500 per violation.

Massage therapists do not need a medical degree to massage humans, but entrepreneurs who want to massage animals in Arizona must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend four years of veterinary school where they are not even required to learn massage.

The Vet Board’s actions demonstrate the outrageous extremes to which state licensing boards will go to protect their own financial interests. That is why the Institute for Justice filed suit on behalf of Celeste, Grace and Stacey, challenging Arizona’s animal massage regulation as an unconstitutional violation of animal massage entrepreneurs’ right to earn an honest living.


Essential Background


Backgrounder on this case

Client Video

Latest Release: Economic Liberty Victory: Court Denies Veterinary Board’s Motion to Dismiss Animal Massage Entrepreneurs’ Lawsuit (July 28, 2014)

Client Photos

Launch Release: Entrepreneurs sue Veterinary Board (March 5, 2014)

Press Conference (March 5, 2014)


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Legal Briefs and Decisions

Motion to Dismiss Ruling (July 28, 2014)
Complaint (March 5, 2014) 

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


March 5, 2014

Court Filed:

The Superior Court of the State of Arizona In and For the County of Maricopa


Motion to Dismiss Ruling (July 28, 2014)

Current Court:

The Superior Court of the State of Arizona In and For the County of Maricopa


in discovery

Next key date:


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Media Advisory (July 15, 2014)

none available 


Op-eds, News Articles and Links


Article: Arizona Massage Therapists Sue Veterinary Board Massage Magazine (August 21, 2014)


Article: Lawsuit says animal massage isn't vets' work Associated Press (July 27, 2014)


Article: Red tape blues The Economist (July 5, 2014)


Article: Free the Horse Masseuses! Reason (June 7, 2014)


Op-ed: Arizona Vet Board’s war on horse massagers (March 5, 2014)

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