Daily Oklahoman Advertisement by Veterinarians Signals Desperate Effort to Maintain Their Cartel Against Horse Teeth Floaters 

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · March 29, 2010

Oklahoma City, Okla.—Oops, they did it again.  Veterinarians are once again seeking to use government power to block competitors.  But this time, they’re using perhaps the flimsiest excuse possible to demand those who file horses’ teeth work under the burden of excessive government regulations:  Britney Spears.

An ad taken out by four vets in today’s Daily Oklahoman seeks to scare legislators into keeping in place government-imposed requirements that anyone who files horse teeth for a living must work under a vet to practice their trade.  The ad spotlights pop diva Britney Spears’ alleged misuse of Clenbuterol as “diet pills” that played a role in her “documented breakdown in 2008” and warns about Ketamine (known as Special K), a tranquilizer that can be used as a date-rape drug.

The problem for the vets (and legislators, if they fall prey to this scare tactic) is that the bill they say would allow greater access to these drugs has literally nothing to do with either drug.  The real goal of the vets is to block passage of HB 3202, a popular piece of legislation that would create greater freedom for horse owners to decide who works on horse’s teeth.  Neither of those drugs mentioned in the ad are used by horse teeth floaters.  Furthermore, the legislation would do nothing to increase the drugs’ distribution.  What HB 3202 does do is increase the ability of horse teeth floaters to practice their trade.  That is what the vets who took out the ad really oppose:  competition for even the smallest part of their practices.

“These veterinarians have really stooped to new lows in their relentless campaign to put horse teeth floaters out of business,” said Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that has litigated and lobbied for horse teeth floaters in Minnesota, Texas and Oklahoma.  “Their hysterical and unsubstantiated claims about abortions, date rape and strung-out pop singers should make it clear to everyone how desperate they are to keep out anyone they see as competition.  Simply put, it is only because they have no persuasive arguments to make against horse teeth floaters that they have resorted to these kinds of shrill, over-the-top scare tactics.  But what they really fear is having to compete with floaters for even the smallest amount of business if legislation is enacted that would allow horse owners to choose the person they consider best-qualified to work on their horses’ teeth.”

Authored by Rep. Don Armes (R-Faxon), HB 3202 overwhelmingly passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 4 and is currently being considered by the state Senate.  The bill would recognize the right of non-veterinarian horse teeth floaters to work in Oklahoma provided they meet certain requirements for education and experience.

The legislation was based on an extensive study by the the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee which showed that horse owners overwhelmingly prefer having the freedom to choose who works on their horses’ teeth, that horse teeth floaters have not caused any serious injuries, and that there is a serious shortage of large animal veterinarians in Oklahoma and the rest of the country. The study also concluded that horse teeth floating is an animal husbandry procedure akin to farriery or dehorning cattle, and that opposition to horse teeth floaters is driven by economic reasons and not legitimate health and safety concerns.  Notably, veterinarians routinely dispense drugs, including sedatives, to farriers, horse owners, and others—but the four sponsors of the lurid advertisement opposing horse teeth floating are not calling for any changes to that law, despite their sensationalistic claim.

McGrath said, “HB 3202 is about the freedom of horse teeth floaters in Oklahoma to earn an honest living and the right of Oklahomans to choose the person they think is best qualified to float their horses’ teeth.  We trust that neither the state legislature nor Governor Brad Henry will be deterred from passing and signing the bill by these baseless and frankly offensive scare tactics.”

HB3202 is supported by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and others