The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) House of Delegates approved the Model Veterinary Practice Act (MVPA) at its annual convention in Denver, Colo. The final document retains the farriery exemption, which stirred controversy within the hoof-care industry after it originally was omitted.

Although the MVPA is not law, it is used as a guide for preparing or revising a practice act in state statutes. Commentary contained within the MVPA can be referred to by state lawmakers to determine intent.

The MVPA exempts farriers from Section 2 – Definitions, subsection 18 of the MVPA, which defines “Practice of veterinary medicine,” in part, as:

“1. To diagnose, prognose, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; including the:

i. performance of any medical or surgical procedure, or

ii. prescription, dispensing, administration, or application of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, anesthetic, or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance, or

iii. use of any complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies, or …

v. determination of the health, fitness, or soundness of an animal, or

vi. physical rehabilitation, meaning the use of therapeutic exercise and the application of modalities intended to restore or facilitate movement and physical function impacted by disease, injury, or disability.

vii. rendering of advice or recommendation by any means including telephonic and other electronic communications with regard to any of the above.”

Further, the current MVPA prohibits the use of “any title, words, abbreviation, or letters in a manner or under circumstances that induce the belief that the person using them is qualified to do any act described in subsection 16(a).”

When the draft MVPA was circulating for comment, it was not clear why the farriery exemption was withdrawn, causing concern and confusion among non-veterinary hoof-care providers. The question of whether farriers could continue to perform their jobs would have been subject to the interpretation of state laws since the working group chose not to provide commentary on the exclusion of the farriery exemption.

In an attempt to clarify the elimination of the farriery exemption, Michael San Filippo, the AVMA’s senior media relations specialist, told American Farriers Journal in an email that it was not an attempt to exert control over the equine hoof-care industry.

“The proposed removal of ‘farriery’ from the exemption section of the MVPA is in no way an attempt to ban farriers from working independently or require a veterinarian to be involved in shoeing a horse,” San Filippo wrote. “Rather, it is an acknowledgment that farriery exists well outside of the definition of veterinary medicine and does not need to be included in the MVPA.”

The American Farrier’s Association, American Association of Professional Farriers, Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners and American Association of Equine Practitioners all expressed their concerns with the exclusion during the 60-day comment period. In its official comment to the AVMA, American Farriers Journal called on the AVMA to formally recognize farriery in the MVPA. The farriery exemption was reinserted following the comment period.

The AVMA mandates that the MVPA is reviewed every 5 years to determine whether policy changes are necessary.