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Only Vets Are To Do Horse Inseminations




Editor's Note:
The following article is being reprinted with permission from the
Shelbyville Times Gazette. The article appeared in their Feb. 20  edition.

by Clint Confehr

The Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners voted 3-2 last week to
uphold its rules on artificial insemination practices that must be performed
by a state licensed vet, thereby denying petitions from a Shelbyville
businesswoman and several horse trainers and breeders.
Such enforcement has a significant adverse effect on the Tennessee Walking
Horse business, according to Dan Elrod's statement to the board for the
Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, and Jeremy Lane Carlton, breeding manager
at Saddle Crest Farms at Shelbyville, who told the board, "It could possibly
put us out of business."
Requiring a veterinarian to provide certain artificial insemination services
would greatly increase horse breeding farm costs, according to Carlton and
several other walking horse breeders.
Under questioning from board vice president Mary Welch, testimony from
Bonnie Cady, owner of The Horse Hub on Montgomery Road, was not as direct.
Cady is accused of violating the Tennessee Veterinary Practice Act and was
asking the board to abandon its enforcement against her. It may be a last
step before she takes her case to chancery court.
If a veterinarian had to attend to the artificial insemination procedures,
Welch asked, what's the effect on her business?
"It would impose a big cost," Cady replied.
Welch asked, "Are there vets available?"
"I'm not sure that there are," Cady replied. "You have to stand around an
wait" for vets.
Testimony to the Tennessee House Agriculture Committee early last week
indicated most students graduating from veterinary colleges are going into
small animal practices, instead of practices treating large animals. Without
proof, one state representative suggested that the University of Tennessee
conduct a study to know if that's true.
Regardless, Cady did not overcome the board's order for her to stop
providing services it sees as veterinary medical practices under a rule it
developed from state law. As a result, the board upheld arguments from
Nicole Armstrong, an attorney for the Division of Health Related Boards in
the Bureau of Health Licensure.
However, after the veterinarian medical examiners voted, Welch, board
president Leland Davis and board member Charles Thompson said all five
members of the board don't like the rule they just enforced and explained
the process to change the rule is time consuming, so that Thursday afternoon
they began the process to change the rule. A public hearing on new rules
could be held in April.
A chief aspect of the rules on artificial insemination is that it can be
done by the owner of livestock on their own animal, but not by someone else
without a veterinarian attending to the procedure. That's part of how Cady
is affected since she'd been providing services at her business where a
state investigator found them to be veterinary practices.
Cady agrees she isn't a licensed veterinarian and that she'd performed six
services including artificial insemination and related treatments, but she
and the horse breeders at the board meeting last week claim the veterinary
medical examiners board is enforcing rules it established beyond the scope
of the law as written by the Tennessee Legislature.
Also petitioning the board were Robert B. Littleton and Lynda M. Hill, both
represented by Miller & Martin attorneys who include horse owners.
Voting to uphold the rule as written by the board were Welch, Marie Gordon
and Charles Thompson. Davis and Thomas Edmonds voted against arguments
presented by a state lawyer.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are considering a bill that says veterinary
services shall not include artificial insemination of horses when it's done
under the indirect supervision of a vet. The bill by state Rep. Eric
Swafford (R-Pikeville) and state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) also says
veterinary services shall not include artificial insemination for swine or
cattle and it's deemed a management practice, not a professional service.
Indirect supervision by a vet over artificial insemination of swine and
cattle is not mentioned in the bill.
It would now appear that there's something of a race between state lawmakers
and a state regulatory board to resolve the issue that's attracted
considerable attention from farmers, livestock advocacy groups,
veterinarians and businessmen and women, according to comments Friday by
Walt Chism of Triune who was president of the Tennessee Walking Horse
Breeders' and Exhibitors 'Association in the early 1990s. Chism attended the
veterinary board meeting on Thursday as did Charles L. Hulsey, executive
director of the TWHBEA who spoke at a state house Agriculture Committee
hearing on Tuesday last week.
House Agriculture Committee members met to gather information and took no
action, although their comments reflected interest in refining the law so
that regulators unfamiliar with farm practices would not be able to
interpret the law for rules that lawmakers do not want enforced.
Yet the three veterinary board members speaking immediately after their vote
indicated their steps to change the rules probably wouldn't help Cady who,
under current rules, was found to be practicing veterinary medicine without
a license.
She was found to be artificially inseminating mares, flushing mares'
reproductive organs, conducting ultrasound examinations on mares to check
for pregnancy, infusing horses with antibiotics, injecting drugs to get
horses to come into season and injecting a drug to get mares to ovulate,
according to a state Health Department order.
Cady doesn't deny those findings, but her lawyer, Frank Scanlon, told the
board judges will carefully compare state law to the board's interpretation
when it enacted the rule it enforced last week.
The board's rule includes manual or mechanical systems to test for
pregnancy, but that's not mentioned in the law, Scanlon said.
"Artificial insemination is not a surgical procedure, nor is it collection
of blood for diagnosis," Scanlon said, referring to state law.
A document released by the state Health Department's public affairs office
quotes state law as defining the practice of veterinary medicine as to
"diagnose, prescribe or administer any drug, medicine, biologic, appliance,
application or treatment of whatever nature for the cure, prevention or
relief of any wound, fracture, bodily injury or disease of animals."
During a recess in Thursday's meeting, Cady smiled in conversation when it
was noted that pregnancy is not ordinarily seen as a disease or injury.
Cady is not the only individual who's faced state Health Department
enforcement or come under investigation by the department. Department
spokeswoman Sophie Moery said 72 individuals have been sent letters telling
them they were being investigated because of information received by the
department alleging that they were engaged in unlicensed veterinary
practices.
State law prohibited Moery from releasing the names of those who received
such letters, she said. One who had responded and his name could be
released, Sammy Sanders of Atoka, was directed to pay two civil penalties of
$750 each for violation of the Tennessee Veterinary Practices Act.
Chism said he believes such actions by the department and votes by the board
will have far-reaching effects on farming in Tennessee.
John Woolfork, a Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation official, told the board
the same thing.
"If A-I [artificial insemination] is eliminated ... it would be a major set
back for Tennessee," Woolfork said. "If A-I was limited to vets, it would be
difficult."
No testimony was heard Thursday morning on how swine production would be
affected if veterinarians were required for artificial insemination of
swine.

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