Lawsuit challenges requirement of license for horse massage

News release from Beacon Center of Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Today, the Beacon Center Legal Foundation announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. The Vet Board recently defined “animal massage” as a form of veterinary medicine, meaning that merely rubbing horses now requires a veterinarian license. The Beacon Center believes this law is unconstitutional and has filed suit on behalf of Martha Stowe and Laurie Wheeler of Franklin, as both of their careers and livelihoods depend on horse massage therapy. Continuing to practice horse massage therapy subjected them to fines and even potential jail time.

After giving the Vet Board warning that the horse massage rule is unconstitutional, the Board asked for an extra two weeks to reconsider the rule before the Beacon Center filed a lawsuit. Despite being given that time, the Board has decided to disregard the advice of the Beacon Center, leading to this lawsuit. 
This is the third lawsuit the Beacon Center has filed, winning its first lawsuit against the city of Nashville for its unconstitutional homesharing regulations. The Beacon Center also looks likely to get a second legal victory, as the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed repealing the shampoo licensing scheme as a result of our case challenging that law.
Beacon Center Litigation Director Braden Boucek stated, “We will be putting our energy and resources into making sure that the government restores Laurie and Martha’s right to earn an honest living. Both the U.S. Constitution and Tennessee Constitution protect the right to earn a living, meaning individuals have a right to pursue a chosen business or profession free from arbitrary or excessive government interference. This regulation clearly runs afoul of that right. The Vet Board is now requiring a license to rub a horse. It is time we stop criminalizing compassion. What’s next, a license to pet your dog or feed your cat?”
Laurie Wheeler, the plaintiff in this case, noted, “We are extremely disappointed and disheartened that the Vet Board has chosen to stand by its ill-conceived and illegal regulation on horse massage despite the outstanding amount of evidence we presented showing that the rule was unconstitutional and unnecessary.” 
Martha Stowe, the other plaintiff in the case said, “Over the past two weeks, both Laurie and I have received a tremendous outpouring of support at both the local and national level, and we are certain that we will prevail in court. We are very thankful for the Beacon Center for protecting our rights.”
Note: Beacon has a Facebook video on the matter HERE; a more lengthy discourse on Wheeler and Stowe HERE.

One Response to Lawsuit challenges requirement of license for horse massage

  • Mary says:

    I find it amazing that the Veterinary Board would consider non-invasive care management a veterinary procedure. In addition I find it extraordinary that the veterinarians have a corner market on chiropractic care and acupuncture and now they want to spend an hour providing myofascial massage to a horse. Like physicians, veterinarians make money with procedures and medicines. However, physicians do not have a corner market on massage, chiropractic care or acupuncture. What is require by the governing board is training and certification in these areas in order to practice. That is what the plaintiffs are requesting as well, certification requirements, as well as the right to practice. Which veterinarians really plan to go to seminars to get certified and become experts in myofascial massage? It is laughable. This really is a monopoly situation, a “don’t get in my sand box” form of government by veterinarians.

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