Four States Usher in Equine Passports

State livestock health officials in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have forged a reciprocal livestock health agreement, making it easier for equine enthusiasts to travel between and within these states with their horses. On Jan. 1, the group ushered in an "Equine Passport" that is valid for six months and can be used in lieu of the certificate of veterinary inspection (health paper) , good 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 Terry Beals, DVM, Texas state veterinarian and executive director for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock health regulatory agency.

"TAHC regulations prohibit the use of the equine passport for entry into pari-mutuel race tracks. 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," said Beals. "Owners who compete, ride or show frequently within the four participating states may find that the passport suits their needs perfectly. Now they 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."

Beals explained that one advantage of the passport is the stepped-up surveillance for the incurable viral disease equine infectious anemia (EIA), or "Coggins." Equine traveling under a passport must have an EIA test run 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 equine (horse, donkey, mule, ass, or zebra) hauled most frequently among the four states are free of the disease," said Beals. The EIA test paper, known as a VS 10-11, must be carried with the passport document. The equine also must be individually identified with a permanent tattoo, brand or microchip-type implant.

"When the passport was being developed, Louisiana 'bought in' on the project but had to delay accepting or issuing passports," said Beals. For more information, or to check on Louisiana's participation in the interstate agreement after mid-February, equine owners may call their TAHC area office or TAHC Permits at 800/550-8242, ext. 777.

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