01/16/2009 12:00AM

Appellate court rules for N.Y. equine dentists

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Equine dentists won a second court battle with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board when a state appellate court on Thursday upheld a lower court's decision that equine dentists need not be licensed veterinarians or technicians.

In dismissing the NYSRWB's appeal by a 7-0 margin, a panel of appellate court judges agreed with Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Roy Mahon's July 2007 ruling that "equine dentistry is akin to routine non-veterinary services" such as those performed by grooms, blacksmiths and trainers themselves, and "does not require licensure in veterinary medicine."

An equine dentist provides routine and periodic filing of horse teeth, treats cuts in horse's mouths or tongues, and does non-surgical removal of baby caps to allow incoming adult teeth to mature.

In July 2006, the board ruled off longtime equine dentist Chris Brown - who had been practicing equine dentistry on New York Racing Association tracks since 1973 - because, in its view, he was not properly licensed. Brown, and other equine dentists were off the track for a year.

"I argued this is not veterinary medicine, this is for the health and daily maintenance of a racehorse," said Michael Aronow, Brown's attorney and a former horse trainer. "The horsemen are better off, everyone's better off."

Aronow said that among the horsemen who testified in favor of Brown were trainers Billy Turner, Pat Kelly, Carlos Martin, and Bruce Johnstone, who has since retired from training and now works as NYRA's manager of racing operations.

Arowow said the board does have the option of taking the case to the State Supreme Court, though that court is not required to hear the case.