Dipping your feet in a pool of “Spa Fish” is a trendy new way to create baby-bottom-smooth feet. Cindy Vong began offering this service a few years ago in Gilbert, Ariz., a growing city outside Phoenix. The therapy historically has been used to treat psoriasis patients in the Middle East and Asia. Patients dip their feet into baths of tiny, toothless Garra Rufa fish that nibble off dry skin, and voila.
This treatment, popular with customers, turned out not to be popular with Arizona’s Board of Cosmetology. Despite the fact that Vong followed all the rules, providing a safe, sanitary environment, the board shut down Vong’s fishspa, and three employees lost their jobs.
“We consider the fish being a tool,” said the Board, and “every tool that comes in contact with a client in Arizona needs to be disinfected or thrown away.” Since you can’t scrub a living fish with Clorox, the board shuttered Vong’s business.
No doubt the treatment isn’t for everyone, but neither are chemical peels or spandex, and they’re not illegal. Like millions of bureaucratic decisions, this one was marked by absurdities. By definition, you can’t sterilize fish. Instead of letting the industry self-regulate, granting Vong an experimental waiver, or working to craft reasonable guidelines for the treatment, the board chose the most destructive path, trampling on Vong’s right to make an honest living and sending workers into the unemployment lines.
That’s why the Goldwater Institute will be in court defending Cindy Vong this morning. We will argue that the government has overstepped its authority. The Constitution guarantees Americans the right to pursue an honest living unless there is a direct threat to the health and safety of the public. The only threat in this case is to the health of our constitutional freedoms.
Goldwater Institute: Vong v. Aune Case Page
Goldwater Institute: Protecting small fish from a big bureaucracy