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Group sues vet board over animal massage restrictions

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal group, filed a lawsuit March 5 charging that the Arizona state veterinary board irrationally and anti-competitively prevents animal massage therapists from practicing. In the case, Kelly v. Whitmore, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, three therapists maintain that they should be allowed to practice horse massage, for which they have been trained, and horse owners should be free to choose their services.

The veterinary board opened an investigation against one of the therapists in 2012 after receiving an anonymous complaint that she was providing veterinary services without a license, and soon after, the board ordered that the therapists halt their massage therapy practices. Under current Arizona law, only veterinarians may practice animal massage; violators can face civil penalties of $1,000 per violation or criminal misdemeanor charges with fines or jail time.