The College of Massage Therapists of BC (CMTBC) have brought a lawsuit against two animal massage practitioners, Jolena Kusec and Nicola Way, for calling themselves “Registered Equine Massage Therapist” (in Jolena’s case) and “Small Animal Massage Practitioner” (in both their cases) as the College feels that the public could be misled into thinking that they provide massage therapy treatment to humans and not to animals.
This lawsuit has nothing to do with Jolena’s and Nicola’s actual work; the lawsuit is only with regard to their titles.
The College of Massage Therapists of BC allege that their titles represent unlawful use of the College’s own reserved titles (“massage practitioner”, “massage therapist”, “registered massage therapist”) and Jolena and Nicola shouldn’t be allowed to use them despite the fact that Jolena and Nicola always precede those titles with “animal”, “canine” or “equine”- both in their advertising material and in verbal communication, and despite the fact that they are certified in these fields.
This lawsuit, initiated by the College of Massage Therapists of BC, has proved extremely expensive for Jolena and Nicola to defend, not to mention the incredible stress of litigation. They faced the choice of responding to the lawsuit or doing nothing. Doing nothing would have a ripple effect on every other animal massage or animal bodywork practitioner in the province in the long run. Instead, they chose to stand up to the CMTBC for themselves and for all others who do this type of work. They have hired a capable lawyer who specializes in animal law. The legal fees, however, are very expensive and they will be in excess of $20,000.
This lawsuit is egregious and feels like bullying. The CMTBC have specifically targeted two senior animal massage practitioners who have spent their careers helping animals with muscular and neurological problems by improving their function and wellbeing as much as they can. The CMTBC would better serve the public by directing their efforts towards prosecuting unlicensed human practitioners who masquerade as “massage therapists” without proper qualifications and who could cause real harm to a human patient.
The CMTBC want Jolena and Nicola to change their titles from Small Animal Massage Practitioner and Registered Equine Massage Therapist to something else, such as masseuse; yet these are the titles that they have been granted after extensive study, and that have enabled them to pursue further certifications in canine manual ligament therapy, acupressure, osteopathic and cranio-sacral techniques, trigger point therapy, etc..
How can you help? We are asking you to please support Jolena and Nicola’s legal defence by donating towards their legal expenses and by sharing this link as extensively as possible with your family, friends and colleagues. Please help them fight for the right for themselves and all animal massage providers to use the titles that they have been certified in.
All of the money raised will be go towards their legal expenses. At the end of the legal process, if there is any money remaining, Jolena and Nicola agree that it will be donated to the BC Animal Owners Association. The BCAOA is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture towards creating regulation for complementary animal healthcare providers, and to prevent this type of legal action in future. Make your voice heard. Please consider joining the BCAOA, they are doing terrific work and it is free and confidential to join.
If anyone is interested in the legal documents (affidavits, the lawsuit and the defense) please contact Jolena or Nicola and they can make them available to you.
Thank you so much for your support and donation, it is very much appreciated.