So far, 24 locations, 57 owners in 16 Colo., counties have been identified with 80 to 100 that have moved off the locations | TSLN.com

So far, 24 locations, 57 owners in 16 Colo., counties have been identified with 80 to 100 that have moved off the locations

Rachel Gabel
for The Fence Post

As the Equine Infectious Anemia investigation continues and the retest dates draw nearer, Colorado State Veterinarian Keith Roehr wants to make clear the requirements to move horses across state lines.

"Right now, our focus is on finding horses in Colorado that left the quarantined premises and then retest between Sept. 19 and Oct. 19 when these horses need to be re-bled so we can begin to release those orders," he said.

The challenge, he said is the brand inspection papers required to move horses require a name but little other contact information, making the job of contacting the new owners difficult. He said on Sept. 10, he had identified 24 locations and 57 owners in 16 counties with an additional estimated 80 to 100 horses in the state that moved off the locations.

One of the most significant challenges now, he said, is the number of horses brand inspected to move to a different state that never actually left. That may be the result of a period of time in holding to improve the horse's health or other factors not reflected in the brand inspection paperwork.

"The bigger issue to me is when these horses are shipped from locations in Colorado, it's amazing how few of them left without a certificate of veterinary inspection," he said. "The compliance with entrance requirements in other states seems to be very low and that, I think, is not a change in regulations but recognition by those people who caused those horses to be moved to other states to understand the requirements and follow them."

All states, Roehr said, require a certificate of veterinary inspection and a negative EIA test to enter. The purpose of the brand inspection, conversely, is to ascribe ownership of the horse. Regardless of the purpose of the move, be it for a change of ownership or even shipment to slaughter, the requirements are the same.

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"About 75 percent of the horses that left the quarantined facility got an EIA test," he said. "There's pretty good compliance with that. Not many of them at all obtained a certificate of veterinary inspection. The other 25 percent of the horses that didn't have that EIA test, we're not aware of how many of those horses were bled before they left the state."

PENALTIES POSSIBLE

Civil and criminal penalties are a possibility for those who ignore the necessary negative EIA test and certificate of veterinary inspection for horses leaving the state. Roehr said communicating this requirement to owners who may not be aware, or may choose to ignore the requirements, is key though the burden then falls upon the owner. Movement within the state becomes more difficult to track in investigations like this one as movement within the state requires only a brand inspection.

"The point going forward is this isn't just about Equine Infectious Anemia," he said. "This is about animal health, traceability that's applicable with any horse disease. This time it was EIA but there's eight to 10 other diseases that arise that, in some cases, are much more communicable than Equine Infectious Anemia."

Failure to comply with the requirements that help ensure animal health and traceability puts other Colorado horses at risk of disease, as well as horses in other states when horses can't be located to be either inspected or tested in a timely manner, he said. An EIA test takes only a matter of hours to complete and Roehr said veterinarians are typically able to offer a certificate of veterinary inspection in a short amount of time.

"This is pretty unique," he said. "If you look at the way cattle move there is better compliance with health certificates and other required testing than what we're seeing in this segment of the equine industry today."

Roehr said once an EIA test, certificate of veterinary inspection, or brand inspection is completed at a location, that premises has an identification number, which assists in locating horses or in assuring compliance. His recommendation is an annual EIA test.

The information about the affected horses, owners, and premises under hold and/or quarantine orders have not been released and is protected by exceptions to the Colorado Open Records Act. According to Colorado Revised Statutes Title 35 Agriculture, confidential commercial data including ownership, numbers, locations and movements of livestock; financial information; the purchase and sale of livestock; account numbers or unique identifiers issued by government or private entities; operational protocols; and participation in an all-hazards security system may be denied disclosure under Colorado statute. Additionally, access may be denied in regard to information related to livestock disease or injury that would identify a person or location.

Again, Roehr is asking anyone who purchased or received a horse in Weld County between July 18 and Aug. 20 who has not received notification from the office of the Colorado State Veterinarian, to contact the office as soon as possible. F