Texas Rangers Help Locate Stolen Horses Nationwide

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) launched its nationwide Horse Identification Program (HIP) and web site this past January. HIP, a voluntary-enrollment service designed to help retrieve stolen horses throughout the United States, draws from the extensive animal recovery experience of the TSCRA and its rangers in Texas and Oklahoma.

Last year, TSCRA rangers recovered $5.4 million in stolen cattle, horses, and ranch equipment. HIP Director Todd McCartney said, "Pulling from their experiences, we've developed this program and can offer services from Texas via new technology."

HIP is a subscriber-service database and web site, which also offers management tools for owners. For an initial per-animal fee of $30, and $10 per year after the first two years, owners can upload to the HIP database information such as their horses' photographs and microchip data.

If a HIP-enrolled horse is reported stolen to local law enforcement and the claim of theft is determined legitimate, HIP staff members enact the four-step Stolen Horse Action Plan. Information from the horse's file and its photos are then electronically delivered to local attending law enforcement, TSCRA barn inspectors, and rangers. All active U.S. horse-processing plants are also alerted, as well as the International Livestock Identification association in Denver.

"These are special contacts developed among law enforcement people," McCartney said. "You and I as horse owners couldn't get this done, but in the networking of law enforcement agencies, we have the opportunity to get the word out (about a stolen horse)."

HIP is not associated with the proposed National Animal Identification System or any other equine identification program. HIP is also not designed to regulate the industry or stop the spread of infectious diseases--just to help reunited stolen horses with their owners.

"What we have here is the unique opportunity to help the equine industry from a law enforcement standpoint," McCartney said. "There's nothing else like it out there." For more information about HIP, visit www.hipprogram.org.

About the Author

Michelle N. Anderson, TheHorse.com Digital Managing Editor

Michelle Anderson serves as The Horse's digital managing editor. In her role, she produces content for our web site and hosts our live events, including Ask the Vet Live. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She's a Washington State University graduate (Go Cougs!) and holds a bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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