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New law makes it a felony to perform equine dental work in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)--A new law that makes it a felony to perform dental work on horses without a veterinary license has lassoed an Oklahoma rodeo star.

Bobby Griswold was arrested March 4 after meeting with an undercover state investigator in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City convenience store, officials said. Griswold then injected a horse (with a sedative) and performed dental work, the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners agent alleged.

Griswold, 40, of Geary, hasn't been formally charged and is free on bail.

Officials said they acted after getting a complaint and that Griswold had been warned four times by letter to stop the practice of teeth floating.

In a statement, Griswold said he is preparing a vigorous defense.

"My family and I have received unbelievable support through this situation, and it all means so much," he said. "We are truly blessed."

Griswold's supporters say non-veterinarian equine dentists are essential because there are not enough vets to care for the thousands of horses in the state. They also say lay equine dentists have done what he's accused of for hundreds of years.

Until Nov. 1, such a practice was a misdemeanor

The sponsor of the new law, Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, said prosecutors declined to charge illegal horse dentists when the violation was only a misdemeanor, but "they can't ignore a felony."

Renegar, a veterinarian, said he was asked to sponsor the legislation by the state Board of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. He said it passed in the Legislature without a single "no" vote.

The law protects horses because only vets are supposed to be able to administer the sedatives needed to work on teeth, Renegar said. If done improperly, the horse could die, he said.

"It's illegal for anyone but a veterinarian to have these drugs in their possession," he said.

But state Rep. Charles Key, R-Oklahoma City, said he believes the law is a mistake.

"We need to fix that because it's way too harsh," he said.

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