Updated December 18, 2013
A Connecticut equine dental practitioner was arraigned in New Britain Superior Court Tuesday after she allegedly administered sedation to clients’ horses, which she is not licensed to do, and one of the horses had a seizure. Shelley Lavigne is charged with animal cruelty and five counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
Lavigne was hired by Blue Ribbon Equestrian Center in July to float or remove the sharp edges from 10 horses’ teeth over two days. Five horses belonged to the barn’s owners and the other horses were clients’ horses.
On the second day, the first boarder’s horse, a large quarter horse gelding, was allegedly given a sedative intravenously by Lavigne, according to the arrest affidavit.
The document states when Lavigne finished giving the injection of Xyxlixne, the horse reared up and fell onto his right side and began seizing. His eyes were rolled back in his head, his tongue was hanging out, and he was convulsing. The horse’s breathing became slow and labored and there was blood coming from his mouth. When the farm’s veterinarian was called, Lavigne packed up and left.
The report states the horse’s veterinarian believes Lavigne injected the horse’s carotid artery, instead of the jugular vein, so the sedation went straight to the brain, causing the immediate seizure. The horse did sustain injuries, but has recovered.
Lavigne is not allowed to use sedation or power floats on horses, although she allegedly did both, according to the affidavit. One of the stable’s owners told authorities Lavigne sedated five of the six horses, including the quarter horse. Out of the five, the power float was allegedly used on four horses.
As a “lay floater” she can only manually float the “cheek teeth, which are located on the sides of the mouth and consist of molars and pre-molars.” Lavigne allegedly marked she floated two horses’ incisors, which are also noted as outside her professional scope.
When contacted by an investigator, Lavigne said she did not use sedation or a power float at the farm. When asked if a horse at the barn had a seizure when she was there, the documents state Lavigne said, “no.” She allegedly told the investigator one of the farm’s owners signed a Hold Harmless Agreement, so she couldn’t be sued.
A warrant was issued for Lavigne’s arrest and she turned herself in on November 19. She is out on $1000 bond. She has not entered a plea, and she is scheduled to return to court on January 13, 2014.
If found guilty, Lavigne could face a maximum penalty of one-year in prison, a $1000 fine, or both on the animal cruelty charge. Each count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license has up to a 6-month prison sentence, $300 fine, or both. She is facing 5 counts.
Rate My Horse PRO contacted Lavigne, but she said her attorney advised her not to comment.