Owner of Texas Boarding Stable Suspects Intentional Poisoning of 27 Horses

The owner of Carousel Acres, the College Station, Texas, boarding facility where 27 horses died the week of July 16, says he now believes the horses were poisoned intentionally, according to The Eagle Land and Livestock Post.

The horses died after ingesting aluminum phosphine, the toxin used in a pesticide fumigant the farm owner had applied to the feed. Farm owner Bradley Raphel said at the time of the deaths that he had used the same fumigant, applied in the same manner, for eight years with no previous problems.

However, the phosphine was found in the horse's stomach contents--not the lungs, suggesting that it was ingested rather than inhaled.

The question that remains is why, if the same directions were followed, the phosphine did not dissipate within the silo.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has been investigating the case. Phosphide is a highly controlled substance due to its high toxicity. A pesticide applicator's license is required for its purchase and use. The Department also recommends that commodities be aerated for a minimum of 48 hours following treatment with phosphide.

Now two veterinarians who treated the horses at Carousel Acres are coming forward to say that they believe the poisoning was no accident. Barbara Hannes, DVM, and Ilka Wagner, DVM, told The Eagle Land and Livestock Post that they are convinced that someone added large quantities of the pesticide tablets directly to horses' feed.

Wagner, who has been the regular veterinarian at Carousel Acres for eight years, told The Eagle, "There is no way that [the amount of pesticide used by stable owner Bradley Raphel] presents enough toxicity. Malicious intent is not what came to mind first. But we are sure nothing else could've caused this. After the necropsies, we started looking into what really happened."

Hannes told The Eagle that it would take 4 1/2 to 11 phosphide tablets given directly to one 900-pound horse to kill it. She said the equivalent of about 189 tablets would have been needed to kill 27 horses.

While Raphel told The Eagle he's not sure who would want to kill his horses, or why, he said that he did not feed the horses that morning. Eleven of the dead horses belonged to Raphel and his wife, including breeding stallions, a top performance horse, broodmares, and foals. Raphel has contributed for a reward for any information leading to an arrest.

The Brazo's County Sheriff's Department is investigating the case. To report information, call the sheriff's office at 979/361-3888.

To read The Eagle Land and Livestock Post' s coverage visit Veterinarians, owner: Horses were intentionally poisoned (Sept 5)

To read The Horse's coverage of the case, click here.


About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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