When Bobby Griswold, a rodeo performer, was arrested, a clash between the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau developed. Mr. Griswold was accused in a felony count of performing illegal dental work on a horse and in two misdemeanor counts of illegally possessing veterinary drugs.
Griswold was the first to be charged under a new law that makes equine dentistry a felony unless the work is done by or supervised by a licensed veterinarian. His arrest caused an uproar among horse owners and equine dentists in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State Rep. Don Armes had rallied the help of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association—the two biggest lobbyist groups in the state—and presented H.B. 3202, which established a certification mechanism for nonveterinary dental providers.
It also allowed these trained laypersons to perform tooth floating on horses and other livestock and removed "animal husbandry" from the definition of veterinary medicine. The bill was signed into law April 16, 2010, and went into effect July 1, 2010.
The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners responded to that law by saying a definition of "animal husbandry" was needed and by drafting emergency rules, because the legislative session had ended in May.
These emergency rules, which were approved by then Gov. Brad Henry and went into effect this past August, declared that companies that provide reproductive services are in violation of the law if they do not have a veterinarian doing those procedures.
This angered opponents, including the farm bureau, which filed a lawsuit in September seeking an injunction against the state board to have the emergency rules lifted, said Cathy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the state board.
At the beginning of the year, however, the Farm Bureau and the state board agreed to sit down together and hash out a compromise. During the negotiations, as a gesture of good faith, the state board voted to withdraw the emergency rules. Current Gov. Mary Fallin is expected to approve the change in the near future, Kirkpatrick said. In turn, the Farm Bureau Legal Foundation withdrew its lawsuit.
The two sides met five times to develop legislation, which was introduced on the first day of Oklahoma's legislative session, Feb 7.
Kirkpatrick said the state board's main concern remains reproductive services. The proposed legislation calls for individuals who perform these services, including ultrasonography, to be certified by the state board. The bill also defines acts not prohibited in the state practice act, such as dehorning, tooth floating, and castration.
"We've been coming up with good compromises. Maybe that's what we should have done all along, but we weren't included in discussions last year (pertaining to H.B. 3202) because they got mad when we arrested (Griswold) two years ago," Kirkpatrick said.