Equine Welfare Bill Passes KY Committee

Bill pushes to maintain health, welfare, and safety of Kentucky horses.

The Kentucky House Agriculture and Small Business Committee moved Feb. 17 to provide more protection for the horse.

House Bill 398 garnered unanimous support and passed the committee with no dissenting votes.

The bill will create the Kentucky House Agriculture and Small Business Committee under the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet to assist, advise, and consult with the cabinet on issues of equine health and welfare and will take action to help maintain the health, welfare, and safety of equines in the Commonwealth.

The bill will also create an equine health and welfare trust fund to be administered by the board to promote equine health, welfare, and safety.

HB 398 is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tom McKee, who chairs the house agriculture and Small business committee.

“This bill will move the horse industry forward,” said McKee, a Harrison County farmer, in a release. “We are concerned about the health and welfare of the horse, and this bill helps address those concerns.”

Co-sponsoring the bipartisan legislation are Democratic Reps. Royce Adams, Charlie Hoffman, Don Pasley, Kent Stevens, Susan Westrom, and Wilson Stone; and Republican Rep. Ron Crimm. The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill is the first major initiative of the newly-formed Equine Health and Welfare Alliance, a Kentucky-based corporation dedicated to the proper care, maintenance, and treatment of horses. Organized by a group of leading equine veterinarians, EHWA is the first organization in the United States dedicated solely to improving the care and welfare of these animals.

While the core membership and origin of EHWA consists of veterinarians, the Alliance is not limited to veterinarians and welcomes the involvement of other individuals, organizations, philanthropies, and companies interested in improving the welfare of the horse.

“While Kentucky is recognized world-wide for its equine industry, many horses and other equines in the Commonwealth, particularly those outside of Thoroughbred racing circles, may be subject to inhumane treatment and some horse-rescue operations in the state lack the standards of quality needed or lack sufficient oversight,” said Dr. Doug Byars, a founding member of the EHWA and a well-known equine veterinarian from Georgetown, Ky, in a statement.

“This legislation will help protect the equine, who cannot take care of themselves, and help make Kentucky a leader in the nation in the area of care and welfare for all equine.”

The Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Board will have responsibility for the following:
--Undertake research, conduct public hearings, and collect data to determine prevalent equine health and welfare issues.
--Strive to develop regional centers of care for unwanted, abused, neglected, or confiscated equines.
--Create a system of voluntary certification of equine rescue and retirement operations that meet industry-accepted standards for care of equines.
--Research and offer suggestions for statutory changes affecting equine health, welfare, abuse, and neglect issues.
--Assist veterinarians and others in maintaining the health and welfare of equines by identifying and referring to the appropriate authorities critical areas of need.

For more information, and to follow the progress of HB 398, visit www.equinehealthandwelfare.org.