Woman defends fish pedicures in court

Jan. 16, 2013 at 8:28 AM
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PHOENIX, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- An Arizona woman said her constitutional rights were violated when the state told her to stop offering pedicures using fish to nibble away dead skin.

Cindy Vong opened a spa in 2008 in the suburbs of Phoenix offering the treatment made popular overseas. The garra rufa fish exfoliate feet by nibbling away dead skin, something the Arizona Board of Cosmetology said should be stopped because it is unsanitary, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Vong has gone to court to defend her business, which she said she spent $50,000 to open.

Because the fish are seen as tools, the Board of Cosmetology said they must be sanitized between uses or thrown away.

"You can't disinfect a fish with Clorox bleach," Vong's lawyer, Darcy Olsen said in opening statements Monday. The board "could have come up with an alternative set of regulations."

"Basically, it's a 14th Amendment issue," Olsen said. "In America you have the right to pursue an honest living as long as you're not endangering the public. She has the right to operate this business and the government does not have any right to shut her down."

Vong said she had to lay off three employees when she lost this popular treatment at her spa. Her lawyer said she's not looking for any damages, she just wants to resume offering the fish pedicures.

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