IJ Saddles Up In Horse Teeth Fight

June 1, 2008

IJ clients and our legal team gather on the courthouse steps to launch our challenge to government restrictions on Texas horse teeth floaters.

IJ Saddles Up In Horse Teeth Fight

By Krissy Keys

There was no horsing around at a recent townhall meeting the Institute for Justice hosted in Texas for those involved in the care of horses’ teeth. The seemingly arcane subject holds a wealth of opportunities in IJ’s nationwide fight to advance economic liberty in all trades.

Equine dental practitioners, horse owners, concerned citizens and IJ attorneys gathered in Austin in April to discuss the monopolistic licensing scheme imposed by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on those who want to practice horse teeth “floating,” which is the filing of horse teeth. We hosted a townhall meeting on the eve of a second lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice against the state board on behalf of practitioners who wish to float horse teeth in Texas without first having to attend veterinary school.

Townhall participants, many of whom will be affected by the board’s sudden, unaccountable change in policy, shared ideas, expressed frustrations and gained a better understanding of where the board’s policy originated and whose interests it really serves—in this case, those of the veterinary cartel. Attendees left the meeting with a greater understanding of what is at stake for horses, equine dental practitioners and horse owners in Texas. They also learned new tactics to fight those who would use government power to limit competition.

In 2007, the state board reinterpreted the Texas Veterinary Licensing Act, making it illegal for anyone except a licensed veterinarian to file horses’ teeth in Texas. Prior to the board’s flip-flop, skilled equine dental practitioners floated the majority of horse teeth in Texas at rates typically well below those of government-licensed veterinarians and with greater skill than most vets because licensed veterinarians typically receive no more than a few hours of training, if any, on equine dental care. Although challenges like this may seem limited in scope, they hold important potential to reinforce earlier economic liberty precedents won by the Institute for Justice as well as victories earned in the court of public opinion. When one entrepreneur—be she a van driver, casket seller or florist—opens the door to her trade, it creates momentum for the next IJ entrepreneurial client, regardless of his or her occupation.

The Institute for Justice is committed to restoring the right to earn a living for all those who pursue honest occupations wherever they are harassed by the state.u

Krissy Keys is IJ’s assistant outreach coordinator.

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