January 7, 2007

Senator Dale Brandland

RE: RCW18.108.010 Restricts animal massage certification to licensed human massage practitioners

Dear Senator Brandland,

My name is Vaughn Brown, currently a Senior at the Washington State School for the Blind and certified in equine therapeutic and sports massage. I met you in November while you were touring WSSB. I am writing to you now concerning animal massage and the laws which restrict my practice in the State of Washington. Our State requires animal massage practitioners to be human qualified first. I feel that animal massage should be separate from human massage.

I am requesting that you sponsor legislation to correct this problem, which is limiting my employment in what could be a growing field.

I received my Equine massage therapy training in Oregon at Bridge Creek Ranch Equine Massage School, which has a nationally accredited training program. The subjects covered during the course were massage techniques, animal anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, basic first aid care, contraindications, and proper animal handling. These are the foundation of animal massage. Massage therapy is the act of manipulating muscles to ease discomfort of the soft tissues.

Animal and human massage are two different fields. The anatomy of a two-legged human is simply different from a four-legged animal. Illnesses and diseases addressed in a human massage course are, for the most part, not relevant to animals. Animal massage therapy is meant to loosen muscles and ease discomfort. Alabama and Washington are the only two states, I can identify, which require an animal practitioner to be human qualified first.

Animal massage therapy should also not require referral by veterinarians. It is neither curative nor chiropractic. No states allow, nor should allow, a massage therapist to treat, diagnose or otherwise handle an illness, disease, physical or mental condition of an animal. This is outside of the purpose of massage and should only be handled by a trained veterinarian. This fact of law should stay in place to protect the animal’s welfare, the owner, and the veterinary field. The states of California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah allow animal massage without the referral or supervision of a veterinarian.

If you are willing to assist me in revising this State law, I think the current Utah law is worth considering as a model. The Utah animal massage qualification requirements are:

  1. 1. Completed an animal massage course of at least 60 clock hours from a recognized animal massage school.
    1. 24 clock hours of quadruped anatomy, and
    2. 16 clock hours of classroom study, and
    3. 20 clock hours of supervised animal massage hands on lab.
      1. under the direction of a licensed veterinarian
      2. under the director of a licensed massage therapist

I look forward to hearing from you and am hopeful that you will champion a change in our State law. I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience.

Vaughn Brown