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Help save Anesthesia-Free Teeth Cleaning for Pets! Sign the petition to show your support (of AB 2304)

This is very important if you love animals..

The Veterinary Medical Board wants to monopolize pet teeth cleaning, forcing pet owners to subject their pet to anesthesia just for teeth cleaning when it can be done without anesthesia. Veterinarians use anesthesia just for the extra profits and to make the procedure EASY for them by chemically restraining the pet.. The actual cost to veterinarians to clean teeth is about $40. Yet they charge hundreds of dollars for their service ($300 to over $1000). Dental Cleanings under anesthesia are one of the most profitable services veterinarians provide. It's their "Bread and Butter", so to speak. This is exactly why the majority of veterinarians do NOT proactively educate their clients on the benefits of tooth brushing, nor bother to give their clients a proper demonstration of how to brush their pet's teeth. Hence the lack of knowledge and education and proactivity will ULTIMATELY result in the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth which causes Dental Disease, and swallowing this harmful build-up of bacteria may also result in kidney, heart or liver damage. And poor overall health and hygiene means BIG PROFITS for Veterinarians. It's a very sad, but true vicious cycle.

Non-veterinarians have provided cosmetic teeth cleaning for decades at a reasonable cost and they don’t risk the pets’ life with dangerous anesthesia. Instead, they take the time with your pet with love and patience. The work is so good that almost 200 veterinarians in California offer the service thru outside companies that specialize in this service. These few vets are not a solution, only the beginning of a progressive concept.

This legislation makes current law clear that non-veterinarians can provide their valuable and safe service of anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. Thus ending the turf-battle between the California Veterinary Medical Association and non-veterinarian Dental Hygienists. Veterinarians want you to think that this process is considered "illegal", but it is not. It is COMPLETELY LEGAL.

Veterinarians have no legitimate reason for this trade not to exist. Pet owners have the right to choose what services are best for them and their pets. The risks of anesthesia are high. Some studies show that 1 in every 233 pets die from anesthesia.

If this bill is OPPOSED and should fail, it would greatly impact approximately 800 businesses and their employees, putting small businesses OUT of business, and even more people unemployed.

Please sign this petition IN SUPPORT of this valuable service. The number of pet owners DRASTICALLY OUTWEIGH the number of veterinarians. And you, as a pet owner and lover, have a voice in this matter! So make your voice heard!


The Bill:

BILL NUMBER: AB 2304 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Garrick FEBRUARY 24, 2012 An act to amend Section 4826 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to veterinary medicine. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 2304, as introduced, Garrick. Pets: cosmetic teeth cleaning. Existing law provides for licensing of veterinarians by the Veterinary Medical Board. Existing law provides that a person is practicing veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry when engaged in various actions and procedures with respect to animals, including the performance of a surgical or dental operation. This bill would provide that "dental operation" for these purposes does not include a service whereby a person utilizes nonmotorized instruments to remove calculus, soft deposits, plaque, or stains from an exposed area of a household pet's tooth above the gum line, provided that the service is performed exclusively for cosmetic purposes and the person performing the service first obtains written permission from the person requesting the service. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Section 4826 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read: 4826. A person practices veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry, and the various branches thereof, when he or she does any one of the following: (a) Represents himself or herself as engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or veterinary dentistry in any of its branches. (b) Diagnoses or prescribes a drug, medicine, appliance, application, or treatment of whatever nature for the prevention, cure or relief of a wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of animals. (c) Administers a drug, medicine, appliance, application, or treatment of whatever nature for the prevention, cure, or relief of a wound, fracture, bodily injury, or disease of animals, except where the medicine, appliance, application, or treatment is administered by a registered veterinary technician or an unregistered assistant at the direction of and under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian subject to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 4832) or where the drug, including, but not limited to, a drug that is a controlled substance, is administered by a registered veterinary technician or an unregistered assistant pursuant to Section 4836.1. However, no person, other than a licensed veterinarian, may induce anesthesia unless authorized by regulation of the board. (d) Performs a surgical or dental operation upon an animal. As used in this subdivision, "dental operation" does not include a service whereby a person utilizes nonmotorized instruments, including, but not limited to, a scaler, to remove calculus, soft deposits, plaque, or stains from an exposed area of a household pet's tooth above the gum line, provided that the service is performed exclusively for cosmetic purposes and the person performing the service first obtains written permission from the person requesting the service. Completion of a form substantially in compliance with the following shall constitute the giving of written permission: "I hereby give permission to ____ to clean my pet's teeth. I understand that this is a cosmetic procedure involving only that portion of the teeth that is exposed above the gum line, and is not intended to treat disease of the teeth or gums or as a substitute for regular veterinary dental care: Pet's name: ____ Owner's name (or name of person requesting service): ___ Signature:___ Date:___" (e) Performs any manual procedure for the diagnosis of pregnancy, sterility, or infertility upon livestock or Equidae. (f) Uses any words, letters or titles in such connection or under such circumstances as to induce the belief that the person using them is engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or veterinary dentistry. This use shall be prima facie evidence of the intention to represent himself or herself as engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine, veterinary surgery, or veterinary dentistry.

End of Bill

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This website is also VERY informative: -Read a Bribery letter from the CVMA to Legislature, and the entire history of this turf battle between non-veterinarians and the CVMB/CVMA.


The following Letter is an attorney letter to the CA Business and Professions Committee.


April 14, 2012


Via Fax




Assembly Member Martin Garrick


State Capitol Room 2158


Sacramento, CA  95814 


            Re: Legal Analysis in Support of AB 2304       


Dear Mr. Garrick:


Our law firm represents Canine Care, Inc., a provider of anesthesia-free teeth cleaning services. We understand the VMB has or will oppose AB 2304 based on its conclusion that anesthesia-free teeth cleaning constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine. Such a conclusion is contrary to the vast legal opinion and authority on this matter.


A.        VMB’s Precedent Decision is Not Supported by Legislative Intent


We anticipate the VMB will oppose AB 2304 by stating that its precedent decision already establishes that anesthesia free teeth cleaning constitutes a dental operation within the meaning of the practice of veterinary medicine requiring a license.  The VMB’s reliance on its precedent decision, however, is misplaced.


To support its conclusion that anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is the practice of veterinary medicine, VMB relies upon its own Precedential Decision No. 2005-01, dated October 20, 2005 based on the Proposed Decision in the Matter of the Citation Appeals of Linden Clark & Canine Care, Inc., Cindy Collins, dated September 20, 2004 (“Precedential Decision”). A copy of this decision is attached as Exhibit A. There, Mr. Clark and Ms. Collins’ appealed the VMB’s decision to cite them for the unlawful practice of veterinary medicine in allegedly performing a “dental operation” on an animal’s teeth without a license. Most importantly, the VMB lost this appeal, and the citations against Mr. Clark and Ms. Collins were dismissed for lack of evidence.


The VMB nonetheless designated this dicta as its Precedential Decision and today rely on it as a policy for citing and fining groomers. However, the designation of this decision as precedential is merely an example of administrative agency abuse.


In designating the decision as precedential and attempting to prosecute groomers thereunder, the VMB fails to mention that it lost the Precedential Decision due to a lack of evidence and the charges were dismissed. Incidentally, but noteworthy, is the fact that the VMB has also lost every other case filed based on charges that anesthesia-free teeth cleaning of the exposed areas of the teeth constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine.


Moreover, the VMB’s reliance on the precedent decision is further flawed because it relies on comments in dicta, and using those comments in dicta attempt to obtain today a result different than the VMB’s loss in the Precedential Decision itself.


Finally, the basis upon which the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the dicta comments in this Precedential Decision (a 1980s advertising video by Ms. Collins that manual scaling of the exposed areas of an animal’s teeth cures and prevents disease) no longer applies today, more than 30 years later. The ALJ noted in his dicta comments that the manual scaling of the exposed areas of an animal’s teeth “falls squarely within the statutory definition of a dental operation” but goes on to state that  such a method in fact “does not cure or treat any diseases, but that is only because the method is incompetent for that purpose.” The VMB attempts to manipulate the ALJ’s dicta comment to state that anyone who performs cosmetic teeth cleaning is practicing veterinary medicine is attempting to perform veterinary medicine and not just those persons who advertised that their cosmetic teeth cleaning cures or prevents disease.


B.        Historical Support for Cosmetic Teeth Cleaning of Animals by Non-Veterinarians


The following is the significant historical support opining that cosmetic teeth cleaning of an animal’s teeth by non-veterinarians is lawful.


·      Opinions of Local DAs and City Attorneys:  Local District Attorney’s Offices and City Attorney’s Offices both have consistently rejected the VMB’s claims that anesthesia-free teeth cleaning constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine and refused to prosecute non-veterinarians on that basis.


·      Regulation 2037:  VMB’s current regulation 2037 specifically exempts the cleaning of animal teeth with “cotton swabs, gauze, dental floss, dentrifice, toothbrushes or similar items” with the definition of “dental operation” and thus the requirement that a veterinarian be present (emphasis added).


·      Patti Alexander v. State of California: In Patti Alexander v. State of California, San Joaquin Superior Court, Case 205626, the court held that Ms. Alexander could use “manual scaling devices” in cleaning animal teeth “as long as those devices are not used between the gum and tooth areas”.  A copy of this decision is attached hereto as Exhibit B.  The conclusion appears quite reasonable.  Cleaning the exposed areas of the teeth is cosmetic and not even remotely close to what a reasonable person would consider a “dental operation” to involve.  On the other hand, cleaning between the gum and the teeth is more intrusive and closer to what a reasonable person would consider a dental operation to involve. 


·      California Office of Administrative Law: The California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) determined that there was no legislative intent to include teeth cleaning within the definition of veterinary medicine under B&P Code 4826: “Our legislative intent research at the California State Archives produced no evidence that the legislatures intended to include within the definition of “veterinary practice” the mere cleaning of an animal’s teeth.”  Importantly, Courts are required to give great deference and weight to the opinion of the OAL.


·      Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs: The Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs Michael A. Kelly, the head of the governing body under which the VMB operates and in charge of all administrative agencies, opined in his October 10th 1989 position statement, that B&P §4826 was too vague to be interpreted to prohibit animal teeth cleaning with a manual scaler reasoning:   


It remains to be determined what the Legislature intended when it used the term "dental operation" in this statute and whether it in fact intended to embrace and thereby prohibit such practices as the use of the hand scaler by unlicensed persons for the removal of calculus and other deposits from the exposed surfaces of animal teeth. The Office of Administrative Law has already determined that this statute is sufficiently vague as to preclude any reasonable interpretation that the section is "self-executing" and therefore cannot be interpreted on its face to bar these practices. (1989 OAL Determination No. 12; Docket No. 88015; July 25, 1989.)


·      VMB Sunset Reviews:  In the VMB’s 1996 Sunset Review Report  to the legislature, under the section entitled Efforts to Improve the Current Regulatory Process, the VMB states that there is a limitation or loophole in the scope of B&P 4826 which allows teeth cleaning by non-veterinarians; and again in the 1997 Sunset Review Report the VMB stated:


Issue #8.  Should the definition of veterinary practice be changed to clarify what constitutes unlicensed activity as recommended by the Board?


Recommendation: No recommendation at this time.


Comment: The Board states that there is currently a loophole in the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine which allows unlicensed individuals to treat animals.  This would include the use of alternative therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy on pets and animals. (May also include “teeth cleaning” by pet groomers.)  The Board wants to clarify that veterinary practice also involves the treatment of a “condition.”  This would prevent anyone from treating a pre-existing “condition” when providing care for an animal.


This issue was raised again on in the VMB’s 2003 Sunset Review Report, with the exact same language as the 1997 Report, to which the following was added in 2003:


Board action: The Board’s recommendation was to add the word “condition” to the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine.  The recommendation was made by the Board’s legal counsel in order to include treatment for wellness proposed in the definition.  Strong opposition from the public, animal breeders and animal behaviorists on the inclusion of that term resulted in no action being taken.


See Exhibits C-E.


·               Statement of Dennis M. Warren, dated June 23rd 1988:Dennis M. Warren, who was the public member of the VMB at the time, issued a position statement that agreed that the use of hand instruments above the gum line should not be restricted as a veterinarian service only. More specifically, he stated “this activity is not a veterinarian service in that its sole purpose is to remove unsightly and odorous tartar from the exposed portion of the tooth and does not involve a medical examination, diagnosis, prescription or treatment. Furthermore, the record fails to contain any evidence of substantial risk or injury to justify a restriction . . ..” See Exhibit F.


·               Legislative Counsel’s Opinion: The Legislative Counsel of California addressed the issue of whether the use of a hand scaler for the cosmetic removal of plaque, tartar or stains from the teeth of dogs or cats constitutes the performance of a “dental operation” as used in Section 4826(d). The Legislative Counsel concluded that it does not. More specifically, it stated that if the purpose of using the hand scaler is “the removal of plaque, calculus, or soft deposits in a noninvasive manner, it would not, in our opinion be a dental operation. . ..” Opinion of Legislative Counsel to Senator Ken Maddy, dated July 26th 1989 attached as Exhibit G (emphasis in original).


C.    VMB’s Recommendation Appears to Be Financially Motivated


It is important to keep in mind that the California Veterinarian Medical Association (“CVMA”) (an association that works closely with the VMB) has been unsuccessfully attempting to convince many different state and local authorities to prohibit animal teeth cleaning by non-veterinarians to eliminate competition and increase their own profits.  The root of the dispute appears to be financially driven.


Notably, in his March 22, 1989 letter to the Veterinarian’s Association, Director Kelley, states “from all of the information that I have reviewed, it seems quite clear that the motivation is, at least in part, a matter of economics”.  A copy of this letter is attached hereto as Exhibit H. 


Also, in his April 13, 1990 letter to the CVMA, Assemblyman Bruce Bronzan rebuked the CVMA for its letters to him and every other member of the Agriculture committee informing them of its intent to donate money to their re-election campaigns less than four days before they were to consider a Bill, substantially similar to Garick’s AB 2304, that the CVMA opposed. Mr. Bronzan described the CVMA’s conduct as “reprehensible” and “immensely inappropriate at best”.  The letter provides in full as follows:


I am writing in regard to your letter of April 10, notifying my office of a $500 contribution that CVMA-PAC plans to make to my election campaign.


That I should receive such a letter at this time, less than four days before a measure which is strongly opposed by your organization is to be heard in a committee on which I am a voting member, I find to be immensely inappropriate at best.


In addition, the fact that a majority - - if not all - - of the members of the Agriculture Committee should receive a similar notice of contribution, sent to their Capitol offices no less, is reprehensible.


I hope that the ill-conceived timing of these letters was unintentional, and not designed to influence the committee members to vote against my bill, AB 3482, which your organization opposes.




Yours truly,




/s/ Marcella R. Chambers




Marcella R. Chambers






cc: Assembly Business, Professions & Consumer Protection Committee


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