Washington sued for the right to earn a living and care for horses
December 22, 2023
Olympia, Washington; December 22, 2023: A federal lawsuit was filed today to challenge Washington State’s equine dentistry laws that prohibit certified professionals from performing essential equine care.
“Despite a worsening crisis in equine healthcare, Washington prohibits trained individuals like our clients from turning their passion for horsemanship into a profitable enterprise providing vital services. The right to follow a professional calling of one’s choice demands greater protection than Washington’s veterinary laws afford,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney David Hoffa.
Horses generally need a specific dental procedure, in this case a technique called floating, up to two times a year, and it is very painful if they cannot access this care. For places like Washington State, whose approximately 200,000 horses rank as one of the largest equine populations in the country, an ample supply of floaters is critical for the animals’ proper care. There are not enough veterinarians or vet techs to manage these numbers, and equine dentistry is not typically included as a core feature of veterinary education programs.
Plaintiffs Jennifer Schultz and Ceanna Johnston are trained horse floaters who are eager to earn a living helping horses and their owners. Neither of them are vets or vet techs, but both studied and trained at specialized equine dental schools. Washington’s unreasonable laws keep certified floaters from earning an honest living and place horses in undue stress.
Represented at no charge by Pacific Legal Foundation, Jennifer and Ceanna are fighting back in state court for their right to provide an essential equine healthcare service without undue government interference.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.