Maryland Animal Massage

Fighting Maryland’s Veterinary Cartel

Clemens v. Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, et al

 Mercedes Clemens was a Maryland entrepreneur with a thriving massage practice in Rockville that offered both human and animal massage.  In addition to being a licensed massage therapist, Mercedes had more than 30 years of practical experience as a horse owner and rider, had been certified in equine massage—a growing practice that can alleviate physical discomfort and calms horses, making them easier to handle—and had even taught animal massage to others.

Despite these qualifications, Mercedes found herself whipsawed by two licensing boards intent on protecting a veterinary cartel from competition.  According to the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Mercedes could not practice animal massage without spending a fortune on four years of veterinary school.  Further, in February of 2008, the Maryland Board of Chiropractic Examiners ordered Mercedes to stop practicing equine massage and take down her website or else lose her license to massage humans, which made up the bulk of her practice.

On June 10, 2008, the Institute for Justice filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville on behalf of Mercedes Clemens, challenging Maryland’s animal massage regulations as a violation of fundamental constitutional rights.  After the lawsuit was filed, the Veterinary Board immediately backed down and was dismissed from the case, but the Chiropractic Board maintained its cease-and-desist order against Ms. Clemens for another year under the absurd argument that anyone in Maryland was permitted to massage animals except people who were also licensed to massage humans.  On July 30, 2009, Judge David Boynton of the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruled that the Chiropractic Board had no authority over the practice of animal massage and had acted illegally in shutting down Ms. Clemens’ business.  Thanks to this ruling, Ms. Clemens has begun rebuilding her practice and reconnecting with her former clients.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: Freeing Maryland Entrepreneurs From the Chiropractic and Veterinary Cartels

Client Photo

Latest Release: Victory for MD Entrepreneur in Animal Massage Dispute (July 30, 2009)

Client Video


Launch Release: Maryland Entrepreneur Files Lawsuit Challenging Veterinary Cartel (June 10, 2008)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

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Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


June 10, 2008

Court Filed:


To be determined



To be determined

Next Key Date:


To be determined


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Maryland Veterinary Board Backpedals on Animal Massage Monopoly, But Therapists Remain Under Threat (July 11, 2008)

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Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Victory for Maryland Massage Entrepreneur: Judge Declares Board's Actions Illegal Liberty & Law (October 2009)

Article: Government in Retreat; Liberty & Law (February 2009)

Article: Law Rubs Massage Therapist The Wrong Way; Liberty & Law (August 2008)

Op-ed: Bob Ewing: Shameful U.S. legacy persists Examiner (June 10, 2008)

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Institute for Justice
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Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.682.9320, Fax 703.682.9321
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