BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 2304
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          Date of Hearing:   April 17, 2012

                                 Mary Hayashi, Chair
                AB 2304 (Garrick) - As Introduced:  February 24, 2012
          SUBJECT  :   Pets: cosmetic teeth cleaning.

           SUMMARY  :   Amends the practice of veterinary medicine to exempt 
          cosmetic teeth cleaning.  Specifically, this bill  :  

          1)Provides that the definition of "dental operation" does not 
            include a service whereby a person utilized 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 

          2)Provides that a signed and dated form similarly substantial to 
            the following constitutes 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."

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides for licensing of veterinarians by the Veterinary 
            Medical Board (VMB).

          2)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.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal.

           COMMENTS  :   

           Purpose of this bill  .  According to the author, "This bill seeks 


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          to clarify existing law to protect a valued 32 year old 
          California industry which employs more than 800 small business 
          professionals, and which has a proven track record of providing 
          effective teeth cleanings which protects pets from the dangers 
          of using general anesthesia.

          "32 years and nearly 3.8 million cleanings later, this cosmetic 
          teeth cleaning industry has proven safe, effective, and a valued 
          small business contributor to our California economy."

           Background  .  Veterinary dentistry and all of its subdivisions is 
          considered the practice of veterinary medicine.  Current statute 
          does not define "dental operation" or "veterinary dentistry".  
          This is not unusual in a legislative regulatory scheme as 
          leaving these types of words undefined permits the regulatory 
          agency, together with the input of the regulated licensees, to 
          set the parameters of permitted and unpermitted conduct.  
          However, including "dental operation" and "veterinary dentistry" 
          establish the scope of practice of a licensed veterinarian and 
          exclude all others from performing these functions.

          In human dentistry, the Legislature also did not specifically 
          define what constitutes a dental "operation."  However, in the 
          human dentistry act, statute clarifies that "scaling," both 
          subgingival (below the gum line) and supragingival (above the 
          gum line) is precluded to all but licensed dentists, registered 
          dental hygienists, and registered dental hygienists in extended 

          The VMB has determined that the use of a scaler is the practice 
          of veterinary medicine.  Accordingly, VMB is currently 
          promulgating regulations to include the term "scaler" into the 
          definition of "dental operation" to prevent its use by 
          unlicensed individuals that are not under the supervision of a 
          California licensed veterinarian.  This bill would nullify these 
          pending regulations.

           LC Opinion  .  LC prepared an opinion in 1990 related to animal 
          dental operations under the scope of veterinary medicine 
          (Business and Professions Code  section 4826).  LC opined, "?We 
          are of the opinion that Section 4826 would operate so as to 
          require the licensure as a veterinarian of a person using an 
          instrument including a hand scaler, ultrasonic devise or 
          motorized polisher in order to remove plaque, tartar, stains, or 
          other substances above or below the gumline of dogs and cats to 


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          the extent that the procedure is invasive or, where the 
          procedure is noninvasive, to the extent the procedure requires 
          more than ordinary skill and knowledge to accomplish its 
          purpose; or to the extent that it involves the treatment of 

           Support  .  Canine Care, Inc. writes in support, "When any of us 
          goes to the dentist to have our own teeth cleaned, it is done by 
          a dental hygienist and not the dentist.  Some dental hygienists 
          can even clean teeth under their own license and without any 
          supervision by the dentist at all.  If these unsupervised 
          cleanings are allowed for humans, then why not for animals? 
          Veterinarians shouldn't have a monopoly on cleaning pets' teeth 
          just to line their own pockets with profits (at $300 - $800 per 
          $42 hard-cost cleaning).

          "The benefits for these cosmetic teeth cleaning services for 
          pets are numerous, including the monthly teeth brushing service 
          which improves dental health for pets.  At just a fraction of 
          the price which a veterinarian would charge, plus not having to 
          unnecessarily use general anesthesia which endangers the health 
          of my pet, cosmetic teeth cleaning remains a safe, effective, 
          and easily affordable service for pets which out to be 

          AB 2304 has reasonable built-in consumer protections which let 
          consumers know about what cosmetic teeth cleaning does and 
          doesn't cover, and it even encourages pet owners to seek care 
          from a veterinarian for any health concerns they may have about 
          their pet."
          Opposition  .  The VMB writes in opposition, "First, teeth scaling 
          in animals is not as simple as teeth scaling in humans, a 
          practice that no one would begin to argue should be deregulated. 
           Mostly, humans volunteer to have their teeth cleaned, however, 
          in those instances when combative children or scared adults are 
          concerned, the legislature has provided for the use of 
          anesthesia and sedation by licensed dentists.  Animals, on the 
          other hand, do not volunteer for teeth cleaning.  Many will 
          fight and bite to avoid having a person's hands and instruments 
          placed into their mouths risking injury to the person and the 
          animal.  Clearly, it is imperative that the practice of 
          veterinary dentistry be done by a licensed veterinarian or a 
          person under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.


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          "Second, scalers and likely many of the other unknown 
          'non-motorized' tools that would be exempted from all oversight 
          (a hammer and screwdriver would not be illegal under this 
          exemption), have to be very sharp to remove plaque and tarter 
          buildup.  Together with animal aversion to having hands and 
          tools in their mouths, the presence of very sharp objects can, 
          and will, lead to serious injury of the animal and the person 
          performing the procedures.

          "The sponsor of this bill will tell you that there is 'no 
          evidence' that any animal has ever been harmed by an unlicensed 
          person performing a 'cosmetic' teeth cleaning.  However, the 
          fact that consumers may be afraid to come forward, don't know 
          they can report animal injuries to the VMB because the person is 
          unlicensed, or otherwise do not make reports does not equate to 
          no animal ever having been injured.  

          "The sponsor's statements also fail to take into consideration 
          all of the consumers who have been misled into believing that 
          the services offered are enough to address all of their pets 
          oral health needs and then later come to find that their 
          companion animals may have been needlessly suffering pain and 
          may now need very costly veterinary care. 

          "The proposed exemption is very broad and would allow anyone, 
          anytime using any instruments to open a business scaling tartar 
          off the teeth of animals.  VMB is very concerned that this would 
          result in much harm to animals statewide."


          Anesthesia-Free Teeth Cleaners Association
          Canine Care, Inc.
          My Pet Naturally Clean
          Pet Owner's Rights
          Multiple individuals

          Abel Pet Clinic
          Adobe Animal Hospital
          Alameda Pet Hospital


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          All Creatures Care Cottage Veterinarian Hospital
          All Tails Wagging Veterinary Clinic
          All Valley Pet Hospital
          Ardenwood Pet Hospital
          Banfield Pet Hospital
          Bay Cities Pet Hospital
          Beach-Garfield Veterinary Hospital
          Blue Cross Pet Hospital
          Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital
          Bristol Animal Hospital
          California Dog & Cat Hospital
          California Registered Veterinary Technicians Association
          California Veterinary Medical Association
          California Veterinary Medical Board
          Camino Alto Veterinary Hospital and Wellness Center
          Camino Real Pet Clinic
          Caring Hands Pet Clinic
          Companion Animal Clinic
          Cordova Veterinary Hospital
          Country Hills Animal Clinic
          Crenshaw Animal Hospital & Cat Clinic
          Desert Hot Springs Animal Clinic
          East/West Veterinary Clinic
          Fall River Veterinary Hospital, Inc.
          Fresno Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center
          Irvington Pet Hospital
          La Costa Animal Hospital
          Laguna Hills Animal Hospital
          Lake Murray Village Veterinary Clinic Inc.
          Mission Animal Hospital
          Monarch Veterinary Hospital
          Mt. Shasta Animal Hospital
          Myrtle Avenue Veterinary Hospital
          Newport Harbor Animal Hospital
          Oak Park Veterinary Clinic
          Orcutt Veterinary Hospital
          Pacific Crest Equine
          Pensaquitos Pet Clinic
          Pet Emergency & Specialty Center of Marin
          Pet Hospital
          Presidio Veterinary Hospital
          Rancho Viejo Animal Hospital
          San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association
          San Francisco Veterinary Housecalls, Inc.
          San Francisco Veterinary Medical Association


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          Santa Barbara Veterinary Group
          Santa Paula Animal Clinic, Inc.
          Scotts Valley Veterinary Clinic, Inc.
          Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital
          Shenandoah Valley Veterinary Clinic
          Sierra View Animal Hospital
          Sonoma-Marin Veterinary Service
          South Coast Veterinary Hospital
          Southern California Veterinary Medical Association
          State Humane Association of California 
          Sunset-Whitney Veterinary Hospital
          Tarzana Pet Clinic
          The Cat Care Clinic
          The Cat Hospital
          Valley Animal Hospital
          Waterhouse Animal Hospital
          West Main Animal Hospital
          Woodland Veterinary Hospital
          Woodside Veterinary Clinic
          Multiple individuals
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Rebecca May / B.,P. & C.P. / (916)