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Judge aids CVMB's quest to police lay dentistry
SACRAMENTO, CALIF.-A judge that rejected two citations against a groomer and his teacher concluded that use of a metal scraper while cleaning a dog's teeth is practicing veterinary medicine.
SACRAMENTO, CALIF.—A judge that rejected two citations against a groomer and his teacher concluded that use of a metal scraper while cleaning a dog's teeth is practicing veterinary medicine.
While the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) lost its case against Cindy Collins, president of Canine Care Inc., a grooming operation based in Temecula, Calif., and student Linden Clark, board officials claim victory due the Administrative Law Judge Ralph B. Dash's statements chastising the groomers for using a metal scraper to remove plaque and tarter from dogs' teeth.
In his judgment, Dash writes that Collins, who trains independent contractors in a anesthesia-free teeth cleaning in videos and seminars, should cease all lectures involving lay dentistry: "There is no doubt the method she teaches for pet teeth cleaning falls squarely within the statutory definition of a dental operation set forth above. She should be permanently enjoined from this practice. However, on the state of record in these proceedings, there is no basis for issuance of an order of abatement as the violations alleging were not proven."
CVMB issued Collins and Clark $500 citations after investigating a pet owner's complaint that her dog's jaw was broken in three places after picking up the animal from a Burbank, Calif., grooming salon.
CVMB Executive Officer Sue Geranen claims a larger fight looms in the state: "In California, there are not minimum standards for groomers. They're not regulated. There's no oversight."
Geranen adds that this decision defines a dental operation, which in turn gives the board a stronger voice to "educate" groomers.
In her defense, Collins argues that the dental cleaning method she teaches falls outside the definition of a veterinary procedure for two reasons:
- The procedure is cosmetic in nature and is not designed to prevent or cure any disease.
- The tools employed include cotton swabs, toothbrushes, which are permitted for use.
Groomers like Collins exploit a loophole in the state's veterinary practice act to validate the use of metal scrapers, says Valerie Fenstermaker, executive director of the California Veterinary Medical Association.
"These groomers are performing veterinary dentistry without a license," she says. "The public is being misled by people who practice veterinary dentistry illegally. Their pets are being injured."
Fenstermaker adds that three similar cases likely will spring forward. Geranen vows CVMB will not let the issue drop.