U.S. Horse Passport Program Gaining Popularity

The list of states accepting equine passports is growing longer as Florida is implementing its own passport program in order to fulfill state and federal initiatives as part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Greg Christy, DVM, state coordinator for the Florida State Agricultural Response Team, discussed Florida's new equine ID cards for intrastate and interstate movement at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture's annual conference held April 3-7 in St. Paul, Minn.

"It's like a horse driver's license, and the same size as a credit card," said Christy. "The two-sided, laminated card has full-color digital images of horse, owner contact information, horse information (name, breed, sex, age, and proof of negative equine infectious anemia, or EIA, test), and the veterinarian's name and phone number. A premises ID number is also linked to each horse issued a card."

Although the passport program is a voluntary alternative to paper documents required for traveling, it is supposed to be a service to horse owners who frequently travel with their horses so they do not have to carry numerous papers for each horse, as well as a means of tracking horses in the event of a disease outbreak.

"With 23 stations along Florida highways that check for proper equine documentation when traveling," says Christy, "we can quarantine disease cases by not allowing them in or out of an area.

"The Equine Interstate Passport Card is accepted as proof of a negative EIA test and an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection within the previous six months for interstate movement to equine events," added Christy. The states that currently honor Florida's Equine Interstate Passport are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia.

A veterinarian in the audience commented that regular health certificates were issued every 30 days, and a horse that travels frequently could come in contact with a lot of diseases in a six month period, possibly infecting horses they come in contact with during that time frame.

A Negative EIA Test Verification Card is also available from Florida's agriculture department, said Christy. "This card is accepted as proof of a negative EIA test within the previous 12 months," he stated. The card looks similar to the horse passport, but does not show proof of a veterinary inspection.

The cards are free for Florida horse owners until June 30. Christy said the current fees have been funded by a grant from the Division of Animal Industry.

As of July 1, the Division of Animal Industry will begin charging $15 for the first horse on an Equine Interstate Passport Card application, and $5 for each additional horse on the same application. The Negative EIA Test Verification Card will cost $5 per application.

About the Author

Marcella M. Reca Zipp, MS

Marcella Reca Zipp, M.S., is a former staff writer for The Horse. She is completing her doctorate in Environmental Education and researching adolescent relationships with horses and nature. She lives with her family, senior horse, and flock of chickens on an island in the Chain O'Lakes.

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