Obiter Dicta

Unbridled Bureaucracy?


Illustration by Jeff Dionise

Clemens, 41, of Gaithersburg, Md., got certified for equine massage in neighboring Virginia but was told by the Maryland Chiropractic and Mas­sage Board of Examiners to cease and desist. It seems state law re­quires that animal massage be practiced only by licensed veterinar­i­ans—who are generally not trained in massage techniques.

“You don’t have to be a medical doctor to massage people in Mary­land,” Clemens says, “so it’s ridiculous that you have to be a veterinarian to massage animals.”

Clemens filed a lawsuit in June against the chiropractic board and the state veterinary board, seeking, as she puts it, “the right to earn an honest living free from excessive regulation.”

Paul Sherman, a staff attorney with the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, says the state regulation barring nonveterinarians from practicing animal massage does nothing more than protect a “cartel” of veterinarians from competition.

Chiropractic board executive dir­ector James Vallone had no comment on the litigation per se, saying ­in­stead, “We’ve never issued a sanction. We’re reactive to complaints and take administrative action.”

A status hearing for the case was scheduled for September.

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