We are proud to represent the New York Pet Welfare Association, whose members include purposely-bred dog owners, breeders, wholesalers, pet stores and veterinarians from across the country. This association, like many other hard-working, animal-loving businesses and individuals, has been increasingly under assault by wealthy nonprofit and retail rescue organizations, including ASPCA and HSUS, (“Retail Rescue Organizations”) intent on eliminating the only source of healthy, humanely-raised, highly regulated puppies in this country.

Over the next several blogs I will describe the legal challenges facing the interstate pet market, including the NYPWA and its members in New York City.

New York City adopted a law which was drafted to essentially eliminate pet stores as a source of pets for City residents—actions that necessarily impact interstate commerce as will be discussed. The law favors the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, the City’s animal shelter (Animal Care & Control) and Retail Rescue Organizations that, despite their “nonprofit” status, are profiting handsomely from their transactions with pets, particularly dogs. As deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Daniel Kass testified, the intended effect of this law is to make it “more difficult to acquire [dogs and cats] through pet shops, or more expensive to acquire puppies or kittens from breeders. We hope that, overall, the expanded regulation of pet shops will encourage New Yorkers to adopt from shelters run by Animal Care and Control.”

The City law bans sales to pet stores from all Class B licensees (whom USDA licenses as wholesalers who purchase from breeders and sell to pet stores) no matter how well they take of their animals. There are no stricter standards required for these licensees to comply with. In fact, the law, as it pertains to Class B’s, has no standards at all. As long as you qualify for and have obtained a USDA Class B license, you can no longer sell to pet stores in the City.

The City law also limits sales to pet stores from Class A breeders, as long as they have not been finally determined to have violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) within a specified number of years. Only a USDA Administrative Law Judge can make a final determination of such a violation. However, commonly, the Retail Rescue Organizations intentionally misrepresent that findings on USDA inspection reports are violations of the AWA. They are not. Noncompliant items on inspection reports are not considered finally determined violations of the AWA.

By limiting sales to pet stores from Class A breeders, the law silently prohibits sales from hobby breeders to pet stores—those with 4 or fewer breeding females that USDA has exempted from licensure after finding that they meet or exceed the humane standards of care required by federal law.

In addition to these sourcing restrictions, which animal shelters and rescues are expressly exempt from, the law requires that pet stores sell only dogs and cats that are spayed or neutered as long as they weigh a mere 2 pounds and are at least 8 weeks old. Despite testimony from veterinarians, including those with expertise in the field of animal reproduction, informing the City that such a requirement will unnecessarily harm many puppies and kill some, the City has not amended this law.

This law, as we have alleged, impermissibly discriminates against interstate commerce and creates an insurmountable obstacle for the entire interstate pet market to comply with the enforcement mechanisms set forth in the AWA and related regulations, which includes a robust licensing scheme for breeders, wholesalers, and retail operations. The law similarly creates an insurmountable obstacle for veterinarians and pet stores to comply with state laws governing veterinary medicine and also the draconian provisions mandating sterilization of pets before sale.

These issues will be discussed separately in upcoming posts.

 

In preparation for the VFD final rule, which outlines the revised process for authorizing use of VFD drugs (animal drugs intended for use in or on animal feed and that require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian), FDA released it’s final version of its industry guidance #233 titled “Veterinary Feed Directive-Common Format Questions and Answers.”

While rejecting a suggestion that FDA require a uniform veterinary feed directive form, FDA has provided a “common VFD format [that] would help veterinarians, their clients (i.e., animal producers), and distributors (including feed mills) quickly identify relevant information on the VFD.”

In addition to providing a list of information that is required, FDA has provided a blank VFD form and several examples of completed forms, several of which are reproduced below.

Blank VFD form
Blank VFD form
Example 1 VFD form
Example 1 VFD form
Example 2 VFD form
Example 2 VFD form

Example 2 VFD form

The information that must be included pursuant to § 558.6(b)(3) on any form utilized includes:

the veterinarian’s name, address, and telephone number;

the client’s name, business or home address, and telephone number;

the premises at which the animals specified in the VFD are located;

the date of VFD issuance;

the expiration date of the VFD;

the name of the VFD drug(s);

the species and production class of animals to be fed the VFD feed;

the approximate number of animals to be fed the VFD feed by the expiration date of the

VFD;

the indication for which the VFD is issued;

the level of VFD drug in the feed and duration of use;

the withdrawal time, special instructions, and cautionary statements necessary for use of

the drug in conformance with the approval;

the number of reorders (refills) authorized, if permitted by the drug approval, conditional

approval, or index listing;

the statement: “Use of feed containing this veterinary feed directive (VFD) drug in a

manner other than as directed on the labeling (extralabel use), is not permitted.”;

an affirmation of intent for combination VFD drugs as described in § 558.6(b)(6); and

the veterinarian’s electronic or written signature.

It would be surprising if veterinarians did not use the forms suggested by FDA to insure they were providing all the information required.

Not everyone is satisfied by the increased restrictions set forth by FDA regarding antibiotics for food animals provided in feed and/or water.

A number of nonprofits filed a citizen petition under section 512(e) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 360b(e), “to request that the Commissioner of Food and Drugs withdraw approval of the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry for disease-prevention or growth-promotion purposes.”

These nonprofits want to prohibit the use of critically important antibiotics that prevent disease in food animals.  Such use is imperative to continue to protect food animals from preventable illness.

The Animal Welfare Act was amended by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide “the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to determine that animal dealers and exhibitors are not required to obtain a license under the Act  . . . if the size of the business conducting AWA-related activities is determined to be de minimis by the Secretary.”

USDA has proposed regulations that define de minimis and “has determined that de minimis businesses  . . .  are capable of providing adequate care and treatment of the animals involved in regulated business activities.”

USDA proposes that :

“[d]ealers and exhibitors operating at or below the thresholds determined for their particular AWA-related business activity would be exempted from Federal licensing requirements established under the Act and regulations. Our proposed actions would amend the regulations to be consistent with the Act while continuing to ensure the humane care and treatment of animals covered under the AWA.”

USDA performed a “Regulatory Impact & Analysis Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” regarding its proposed regulations, finding that:

“this proposed rule would relieve regulatory responsibilities for some currently licensed entities and reduce the cost of business for those entities [and] [t]hose currently licensed exhibitors and dealers . . . would no longer be subject to licensing, animal identification, and recordkeeping requirements.”

USDA’s summarized the economic impact of its rule:

“The cost of a license for the smallest entities is between $40 and $85 annually. Identification tags for dogs and cats cost from $1.12 to $2.50 each. Other covered animals can be identified by a label attached to the primary enclosure containing a description of the animals in the enclosure at negligible cost.  We estimate that the average currently licensed entity potentially affected by this proposal spends about 10 hours annually to comply with the licensing paperwork and recordkeeping requirements.  All of the currently licensed entities that would be considered de minimis under this proposal would benefit from reduced costs for licensing, identification and recordkeeping. “

“We estimate that there may be as many as 212 currently licensed exhibitors who would no longer need to be licensed under the proposed rule. There are 133 currently licensed exhibitors with 4 or fewer animals that would therefore be considered de minimis under this proposal.  There are also 79 currently licensed exhibitors with 5 to 8 animals.  At least some of the licensees in this latter group exhibit any or all of their animals for no more than 30 days per calendar year, and would therefore be considered de minimis as seasonal exhibitors under this proposal.  We estimate that the cost savings for all these entities could total about $41,400 annually.”

Comments to USDA’s regulation will be accepted until November 2, 2016.

In New Jersey, Senate Bill 2454 would “[p]rovide for confiscation and forfeiture of animals involved in animal cruelty violations, and for [the] cost of their care while being held,” all without a Court review of any evidence that would demonstrate such action was warranted.  While we have previously discussed that laws should provide for swift confiscation in situations where the animals are in imminent danger and/or require medical care that has been withheld, such measures can be accomplished pursuant to existing law that permits

“[a]n officer or agent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or a certified animal control officer, may petition a court of competent jurisdiction to have any animal confiscated and forfeited that is owned or possession by a person at the time the person is found to be guilty of violating . . .  [animal cruelty laws].”

However, S2454 puts the proverbial cart before the horse by permitting law enforcement officers, the New Jersey State and local SPCA agents, or animal control officers to “immediately take physical custody of any animal injured or at risk of imminent harm due to the [alleged] violation and any other animals that the officer or agent believes are in danger of imminent harm” without court oversight and approval.  The proposed bill requires review by a court after confiscation has already occurred.

In fact, the law prohibits a court review “no sooner than 10 days” for no discernible reason.   The court is limited to a review of the enforcing agency’s assessment of existing and projected costs for the care of the animals confiscated and must assess the alleged violator those costs plus a security deposit.  The accused must request a separate hearing to prove that it is unable to pay those costs.

Essentially, the concept of innocent until proven guilty would be entirely irrelevant if this bill passes.

But that is not all.

The burden of establishing probable cause of an animal cruelty violation by a petitioning enforcement agency is eliminated if the accused previously had a prior finding of probable cause of an animal cruelty offense, even if those charges were unfounded.

Even worse, if the accused is acquitted of all charges, “the court may return the animal to the owner . . . upon a determination that the owner . . . is able to adequately care for the animal.”  So even if not guilty, the owner will have to undergo some kind of assessment that they are able to care for their animal.

Sounds like double jeopardy (or worse) to me.

And the enforcement agencies are protected against inquiries about the motivation for their actions and cannot be held liable for their conduct, even if based on invidious animus.

Other states have adopted some provisions that permit confiscation of animals before conviction, similar to New Jersey’s existing laws, but none appear as draconian as in S2454.

 

 

Effective client communications is the key to success in many professions, including the practice of veterinary medicine. While serving on the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medicine for nearly a decade, I was continuously surprised by the number of complaints filed against veterinarians for what amounted to a failure to adequately communicate with client.  The care provided by the veterinarian usually met or exceeded the required standard of care, so the complaint could have been avoided if the veterinarian had ensured that what they had intended to communicate with the client was the information that was actually received.

Of course, in many cases it is difficult to obtain that goal, particularly when a beloved pet is critically sick or injured.

That is why a recently published study on topic was of interest to me.

Jane R. Shaw, et al. recently published “Outcomes assessment of on-site communication skills education in a companion animal practicesee J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 2016:249:419-432.

The objective of the assessment was

“to evaluate veterinarian-client communication and veterinarian and client satisfaction with veterinary visits before and after veterinarians underwent a 6-month communication skills training program in a practice setting.”

The results as reported were impressive:

“After the intervention, appointments were 5.4 minutes longer and veterinarians asked 60% fewer closed-ended lifestyle-social questions, provided 1.4 times as much biomedically related client education, and used 1.5 and 1.24 times as much facilitative and emotional rapport communication, respectively, compared with before the intervention.”

By altering the quality of the communication, the veterinarians received more medically-relevant information from their clients, and both veterinarians and clients felt that enhanced communications benefited the pet being treated.

Adequate communication between veterinarians and their clients is not only considered a “core clinical skill” by the AVMA Council on Education while evaluating colleges of veterinary medicine for accreditation purposes, it forms the basis of requirements by most States for veterinarians to obtain informed consent from clients before providing veterinary services to their patients.

The AVMA approved a policy on informed consent[1] in 2007.

“Informed consent better protects the public by ensuring that veterinarians provide sufficient information in a manner so that clients may reach appropriate decisions regarding the care of their animals.”

“Veterinarians, to the best of their ability, should inform the client or authorized agent, in a manner that would be understood by a reasonable person, of the diagnostic and treatment options, risk assessment, and prognosis, and should provide the client or authorized agent with an estimate of the charges for veterinary services to be rendered. The client or authorized agent should indicate that the information is understood and consents to the recommended treatment or procedure.”

“Documentation of verbal or written informed consent and the client’s understanding is recommended.”

States, including New York have disciplined veterinarians for failure to obtain informed consent.

 

Also, cases in several states have discussed the requirements for veterinarians to obtain informed consent from their clients.

 

In Lawrence v. Big Creek Veterinary Hosp., L.L.C., No. 6-2737, 2007 WL 2579436 (Ohio App. 11 Dist. Sept. 7, 2007), the court stated that the informed consent doctrine required for other medical professionals “is clearly indicative of the veterinarian’s duty of care.”

 

In Hines v. Alldredge, 783 F.3d 197 (5th Cir. 2015), the court cited Tex. Med. Providers Performing Abortion Servs. v. Lakey, 667 F.3d 570, 584–85 (5th Cir.2012) (Higginbotham, J., concurring) for the conclusion that “[t]he doctor-patient relationship has long been conducted within the constraints of informed consent to the risks of medical procedures, as demanded by the common law, legislation, and professional norms.”

 

In Emes Stable v. University of Pennsylvania, 1988 WL 33893 (E.D.Pa. April 4, 1988) the court discussed the requirement for veterinarian to obtain informed consent from clients which includes informing their clients of the “alternatives that a reasonable man such as the owner would deem significant in making a decision whether to undergo the recommended treatment.”

 

Whether to comply with state veterinary practice acts, or to prevent unwarranted complaints, veterinarians (and their clients) are best served when their communication skills remain a priority in their practice.

 

[1] As of November 2007, the AVMA discontinued use of the term “informed consent” in matters relating to veterinary medicine replacing it with the term “owner consent”.

By Sheila Goffe originally p

While the zika virus poses worrisome human health concerns, another potential health problem is brewing that threatens both humans and domesticated animals –the importing of foreign dogs for adoption.

Many people are unaware that the U.S. has become something of a favored nation for countries looking to export their rescue dogs due to several reasons.

First, Americans are big-hearted, and when seeking dogs many chose animals made available through rescues.

Second, there’s a readymade market here – Americans love canines and own an estimated 80 million dogs.

The vast majority of imported rescue dogs are not tracked in the United States – either upon arrival or after they enter rescue channels.

Lastly, import rules on dogs can be easily flouted, allowing foreign exporters to send us their sick animals.

The vast majority of imported rescue dogs are not tracked in the United States – either upon arrival or after they enter rescue channels. Patti Strand, founder and national director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, a non-profit that studies shelter trends and the importation of rescue dogs, estimates that close to one million rescue dogs are imported annually from regions not known for stellar canine health and safety standards. They include dogs from Puerto Rico, Turkey, several countries in the Middle East and as far away as China and Korea. That compares to about 8 million dogs annually acquired as pets in the U.S.

All of this underscores that without improved oversight of pet rescue organizations, there’s no way of definitively identifying how many foreign rescue dogs are put up for adoption here.

These foreign rescues may be well-intentioned, but they are courting disaster.

While it is often a challenge to gather information on an abandoned dog here in the U.S., it is even harder for a dog that originated overseas. Information may be missing, poorly translated or unreliable.

Challenges are especially serious when it comes to health and safety. Animals from other countries are not subject to the health and welfare laws of the U.S. and may arrive carrying serious and infectious canine diseases. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although importation laws require all dogs to be examined by a licensed veterinarian, foreign paperwork is hard to verify and is commonly invalid or forged.

Likewise, the tracking, health and welfare standards that are required for dogs bred in the United States and sold in pet shops do not apply for pets identified as sourced from rescues.

Scores of “puppy mill” bills like New Jersey’s S. 63/A. 2338 that ban pet stores from sourcing professionally-bred pets in lieu of pets sourced from rescues threaten to expand the problem to epic proportions.

The threat to public health is anything but theoretical. On May 30, 2015, eight dogs rescued in Egypt arrived in New York, all but one bound for U.S. rescues. Within days, a dog sent to Virginia became ill and was diagnosed with rabies.

The discovery necessitated an enormous public health investigation involving four state departments of health, three U.S. agencies, the transporting airline and the Egyptian government. Numerous people were interviewed from the airline, rescue organization and veterinarian’s office. In the end, 18 people were vaccinated for rabies either due to direct exposure or concern for possible contact. The rabies vaccination certificate for the dog had been forged, according to the CDC.

This is just one case. The CDC reports a significant uptick in public health concerns and incidents of disease in imported dogs that can be passed between animals and humans.

For example, an outbreak last year in the Midwest of canine influenza that sickened more than 1,100 dogs was traced to the importation of foreign animals, very likely a foreign dog or cat.

“There are multiple international groups who are rescuing dogs from the meat market in Korea and shipping them into the U.S., and we have sketchy quarantine requirements if any at all,” said Dr. Ed Dubovi, director at Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center.

Also at issue is the safety and suitability of foreign rescue dogs as family pets. Sources of dogs that are not socialized or bred to be pets are likely to require special handling and training that typical adopters — and even rescues –are not equipped to provide.

Without knowledgeable care, these dogs will end up back in a shelter situation.

Opening our doors is having other undesirable effects. Though some imported dogs are taken by legitimate U.S. rescues, others are becoming the product of unregulated, informal markets, including online retail “rescues.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, there have been numerous incidents involving smuggling of underage and sick animals. Substandard foreign breeders are taking advantage of all of these avenues into the U.S. market, rescue or otherwise.

The importation of rescue dogs does nothing to address issues at the source, and it actually encourages irresponsible breeding overseas. It has created an incentive for irresponsible brokers to round up street animals, buy dogs from Asian livestock markets and allegedly breed animals specifically for export to U.S. rescue markets. And because the animals are labelled as rescues, standards appear to be optional.

A pipeline for unrestricted imports of foreign “rescue” animals undercuts the mission of U.S. rescues, while creating a potential health and safety crisis.

The CDC is exactly correct in its analysis of the problem and its potential risks to Americans.

“Considering the public health risk posed by importation of animals for the purposes of placing them in adoptive homes in the United States, and the current oversupply of adoptable animals already in the United States, persons and organizations involved with importing pets for the purposes of adoption should consider reevaluating, and potentially redirecting, their current efforts,” the agency wrote.

Plenty of domestic dogs are languishing in shelters and in need of homes. Our duty is to help these dogs first.

Sheila Goffe is Vice President, Government Relations for the American Kennel Club. Follow the AKC on Twitter @akcdoglovers.

 

Anyone who works with livestock knows how difficult it can be to manage manure properly  from an economic, environmental and animal health standpoint (not necessarily in that order).

28,000 hogs (and their manure) were affected during Hurricane Floyd.

As reported by the NY Times:

“In the hurricane, feces and urine soaked the terrain and flowed into rivers from the overburdened waste pits the industry calls lagoons.  The storm killed more than two million turkeys, chickens and livestock in the region, and waste from the farms is expected to keep leaching into the water supply until next spring.”

That is why the announcement by BHSL about their ability “to find an economic alternative to land spreading for poultry manure produced in broiler rearing by developing the technology to use the manure as a fuel for energy generation on the farm” is so revolutionary.”

“BHSL championed the development of the new rules for on-farm combustion of poultry manure at European Commission level, in close collaboration with the UK and Irish governments, on behalf of the European poultry industry.  The resulting rules reclassified poultry manure as a valuable Animal By-Product for on-farm combustion, which meets emissions animal health and human health standards.

BHSL’s bio-feedstock energy systems enable chicken producers to safely, securely and consistently produce fuel alongside food.”

The ability of livestock producers to contain and utilize manure productively and safely is of paramount importance for animal health and environmental protection.

Other technologies have been utilized to manage manure.  For example, “[a]nimal manures from intensive livestock operations can be pelleted to improve handlings and recyclings of embodied nutrients.”

Other technologies have been utilized to manage manure.  For example, “[a]nimal manures from intensive livestock operations can be pelleted to improve handlings and recyclings of embodied nutrients.” Atsushi Hayakawa, et. al, N2O and NO emissions from an Andisol field as influenced by pelleted poultry manure, 2008.12.011.  The use of pelleted manure may effect nitrogen levels in the soil, as this report and others have identified.

Concerns about manure are not limited to poultry.  EPA regulates animal feeding operations, defined as “agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations,” because of concerns that “[m]anure and wastewater from AFOs have the potential to contribute to pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, hormones, and antibiotics to the environment.”  See EPA’s website.

According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC):

“[t]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008 finalized its regulations under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The CAFO rule is the most comprehensive federal water-quality regulation ever put on pork producers.”

Despite the economic impact this regulation has had on livestock producers, industry associations like the NPPC are committed to continuing “to work with EPA and others to support fair, sound, and practical implementation of the final CAFO rule, including support for the development and use of effective Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) to guide the land application of manure.”

One thing is certain, manure management will also be an integral part of animal agriculture.

Therefore, continued development of advanced scientific technologies to manage manure will help ensure that people and animals are healthy.

 

Animal agriculture, like other animal-related industries, is a constantly evolving enterprise, informed by results from scientific studies focused on the best methods to raise livestock so as to minimize animal discomfort and disease.

With increasing concerns about the impacts on antibiotic resistance resulting from the use of antibiotics in livestock, methods to keep livestock healthy without relying on antibiotics has become the focus of scientific research.

Hence, the ability to modify animal genes to protect them from disease infection has been an area of increased interested.

Genus, a world-leading animal genetics company, recently announced “the discovery of the first pig resistant to Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome virus (‘PRRSv’)[1] in collaboration with the University of Missouri. An exclusive global license has been signed enabling Genus to develop and commercialise the technology.”

As reported on USDA’s website[2]

PRRSV is the etiologic agent of PRRS, an economically devastating, pandemic disease of swine that is typically characterized by reproductive failure in breeding herds and respiratory problems and growth retardation in growing pigs.  Two PRRS outbreaks were first reported in the late 1980s in North America and central Europe.  The disease is now found in most pig-producing countries and affects the swine industry and food safety worldwide, causing enormous economic losses each year.  In the US, the annual loss due to PRRS is estimated to exceed $500 million.  Over the last decade, this genetic/antigenic diversity of PRRSV has expanded continuously and rapidly, highlighting the dynamic nature of PRRSV evolution and epidemiology.

Using gene editing technology, Genus and its subsidiary the Pig Improvement Company (PIC) reportedly made “small changes . . . to inactivate a single gene from the pigs that produces a protein, known as CD163, [which] the PRRS virus requires for infection to occur.”

The results allow the production of PRRSv resistant pigs.

As described on Genus’ website:

“Using precise gene editing, the University of Missouri was able to breed pigs that do not produce a specific protein necessary for the virus to spread in the animals.  The early stage studies conducted by the University demonstrate these PRRSv resistant pigs, when exposed to the virus, do not get sick and continue to gain weight normally.  Genus will continue to develop this technology, and we expect it will be at least five years until PRRS resistant animals are available to farmers.”

Since there is no cure for PRRSV and the disease results in “the suffering or death of millions of pigs and piglets each year,” this type of innovative advance in science is considered a breakthrough.

[1] While antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses like PRRSV, such infections are often accompanied by secondary bacterial infections which are susceptible to targeted antibiotic treatment.

[2] This information is from Utah State University’s submission to USDA’s Current Research Information System (CRIS).

USDA, authorized and tasked with enforcing the humane treatment of horses pursuant to the Horse Protection Act, has published amendments to its regulations pursuant to the Act.

According to a 2010 Audit Report by USDA’s Office of Inspector General:

“APHIS’ program for inspecting horses for soring is not adequate to ensure that these animals are not being abused. At present, horse industry organizations hire their own inspectors (known as designated qualified persons (DQP)) to inspect horses at the shows they sponsor. However, we found that DQPs do not always inspect horses to effectively enforce the law and regulations, and in some cases where they do find violations, they deliberately issue tickets to friends or family members of responsible individuals so that the responsible person could avoid receiving a penalty for violating the Horse Protection.”

APHIS agreed with the findings of this report and proposed regulations that would dramatically amend its regulations—not only removing the authority of horse industry organizations to train designated qualified persons, and reassigning that responsibility to APHIS—but also amends the regulations “to prohibit use of pads, substances, and action devices on horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.” See 81 FR 49112, July 26, 2916.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), who will be most affected by the proposed regulations have expressed concerns about the proposed rule, warning that:

“[t]he proposed rule by the United States Department of Agriculture that would eliminate the use of any pad, action device or hoof band as well as eliminate all self-regulation will have devastating impacts. The demands on horse show management will be costly and create an unnecessary hassle and the demands on exhibitors to enter horses, regardless of the division will be prohibitive as well. Horse shows in many cases will cease to exist.

The proposed rule is clearly an overreach, typical of today’s Washington, and an overt effort to bypass Congress. In order to appease radical animal rights organizations, USDA is refusing to objectively look at the facts and instead implementing rules that are not based in science or reality. Veterinary experts at Auburn University and the University of Tennessee have proven that action devices and pads do not harm horses.”

Instead “TWHBEA is calling on USDA to assemble a group of Equine Specialists to determine objective tests and end more than forty years of conflict,” adding that:

“TWHBEA is currently funding veterinary research in order to obtain objective, scientific tests for our show horses. Changing inspectors and eliminating our show horse will do nothing to help the welfare of our horse and will crush hundreds of civic clubs across the country who depend on our shows for fundraising.”

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, whose mission is “to improve the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional development of its members, and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the equine industry,” is in favor of the proposed regulations.

 

“The AAEP is extremely pleased with the USDA’s work in proposing regulation changes to end the inhumane act of soring, which is one of the most significant welfare issues affecting any equine breed or discipline in the United States.

As doctors of veterinary medicine, we have previously recommended the use of only veterinarians to inspect horses at shows for evidence of soring, as well as a ban on action devices and performance packages. Both of these items are included in the USDA’s proposed rule changes.

Soring is an intentional, cruel act which must end. The AAEP will continue to support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act and work to eliminate this practice.”

In USDA’s “Regulatory Impact Analysis & Analysis in support of Certification that the Rule will not have a Significant Economic Impact on a Substantial Number of Small Entities” the agency concluded that the proposed  “rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

However, the agency also invited comments that refute that conclusion, which provides the TWHBEA or others negatively affected by this proposed regulation the opportunity to inform USDA about potential unintended consequences of its rule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FDA, gearing up for the implementation of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), recently “issued a letter reminding retail establishments that sell medically important antimicrobials for use in feed or water for food animals that the marketing status of those products will change from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription (Rx) or to veterinary feed directive (VFD) at the end of calendar year 2016.”

As reported in the Daily Herald, those servicing livestock producers in Utah have also been trying to spread the word:

“Local veterinarians, feed suppliers and livestock producers gathered in Lehi on Thursday to learn how the federal feed directive, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, will affect their operations.

The meeting is just one of a series of meetings being held across the state to make sure livestock producers aren’t taken by surprise when the new directive takes effect. It is expected to affect almost everyone who raises animals for human consumption — from 4-Hers to turkey farmers to bee keepers.”

The VFD sets forth “the process for authorizing use of VFD drugs and provides a framework for veterinarians to authorize the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes” as reported by Lydia Zuraw on JUNE 3, 2015 at Food Safety News.

FDA announced that the final rule is:

“an important piece of the agency’s overall strategy to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals. This strategy will bring the use of these drugs under veterinary supervision so that they are used only when necessary for assuring animal health.”

Notably, as previously discussed here, the rule memorializes the concept that veterinarian may only prescribe antibiotics to animals “within the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), which includes sufficient knowledge of the animal, visits to the farm, and follow-up evaluation or care.”

While many states include that requirement in state veterinary medical practice acts, not all states include a definition of or specifications for the “veterinarian-client-patient relationship.”  (See table of state laws compiled by AVMA).

The VFD will require veterinarians to follow state-defined VCPR requirements as long as the state requirements include the key elements in the final VFD.

FDA requires:

“the veterinarian engage with the client (i.e., animal producer or caretaker) to assume responsibility for making clinical judgments about patient (i.e., animal) health, have sufficient knowledge of the animal by conducting examinations and/or visits to the facility where the animal is managed, and provide for any necessary follow-up evaluation or care.”

However, “where the FDA determines that no applicable or appropriate state VCPR requirements exist, veterinarians will need to issue VFDs in compliance with federally defined VCPR requirements.”