Three animal massage therapists and the Institute for Justice have filed suit in Maricopa County, Ariz., against a law that prohibits them from doing their jobs without a veterinary license.
Grace Granatelli, Celeste Kelly, and Stacey Kollman are privately certified to work as animal massage therapists. None of them advertise claiming to provide veterinary services for horses or any other animal. In fact, they tell clients that massage therapy is no replacement for veterinary services.
Nevertheless, Kelly and Granatelli were slapped with cease-and-desist letters from the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board. Now they could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $3,500 per violation.
The Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board says animal massage therapists need a license to practice medicine – unlike human massage therapists.
The women say they don’t need a veterinary degree from a four-year college to give an equine rubdown.
The IJ calls the matter a “licensing scheme.”
“Arizona’s outrageous licensing scheme puts individuals with experience and skill out of work, while forcing animal owners to pay more for extra care they don’t want,” said IJ Attorney Diana Simpson, lead counsel on the case. “The Arizona and U.S. constitutions protect the right to earn an honest living, and that right has been violated by a government protecting veterinary industry insiders.”
“The Vet Board’s licensing requirement is a lose, lose, lose for Arizona entrepreneurs, Arizona animal owners, and the animals themselves,” said Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter. “There is no good reason to put these animal massage therapists out of work, which is why we are asking the courts to declare that the Vet Board’s actions violate Arizonans’ right to work in the occupation of their choice, free from unreasonable government regulation.”