States enact equine passport

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State livestock health officials in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have forged a reciprocal livestock health agreement, making it easier to transport horses between and within these states. On Jan 1, the group announced an "equine passport." The passport is valid for six months and can be used in lieu of a certificate of veterinary inspection, which is valid for only 30 to 45 days, depending on the state in which it is presented.

"We spent months working with the other states to develop the passport, so owners could easily travel with their animals to rodeos, trail rides, competitions and events within the four states," said Dr. Terry Beals, Texas state veterinarian and executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission.

"Texas Animal Health Commission regulations prohibit the use of the equine passport for entry into pari-mutuel racetracks. All other major shows and events welcome either the new document or a certificate of veterinary inspection."

"Private veterinary practitioners have been very supportive of the passport, as it cuts down on filling out paperwork for their clients who are on the rodeo, trail ride, or other event circuit," Dr. Beals said. "Owners who compete, ride, or show frequently within the four participating states may find that the passport suits their needs perfectly. Now [clients] can choose either a certificate of veterinary inspection or the passport, either of which will be acceptable. Anyone interested should talk with their private veterinary practitioner."

Dr. Beals explained that one advantage of the passport is the stepped-up surveillance for equine infectious anemia. Horses traveling under a passport must have completed an EIA test every six months, instead of every 12 months, which is the requirement for a certificate of veterinary inspection. "That will give greater assurance that the equids (horse, donkey, mule, ass, or zebra) hauled most frequently among the four states are free of the disease," Dr. Beals said.

The EIA test paper must be carried with the passport document. The horse also must be identifiable by permanent tattoo, brand, or microchip implant.

According to Dr. Beals, Louisiana had to delay accepting or issuing passports, but the state's status may change. For more information, call Texas Animal Health Commission Permits at (800) 550-8242, ext 777.