House Bill 398 awaits Governor’s signature

April 1, 2010

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Landmark legislation that will enhance the health and welfare of the horse has passed the Kentucky General Assembly, establishing Kentucky as a national leader in protecting the horse.

Today, the Kentucky House of Representatives gave final approval to House Bill 398, bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana. The bill now goes to Gov. Steve Beshear for his signature.

With enactment of the bill into law, Kentucky is poised to become a national leader in promoting and enhancing equine health and welfare.

“Kentucky becomes the first state in the Union to make this sort of commitment to the horse,” said Dr. Frank Dwayne Marcum, DVM, an equine veterinarian from Versailles and president of the Kentucky-based Equine Health and Welfare Alliance Inc. (EHWA). “Already, our colleague veterinarians in Louisiana, Texas, and other states that support EHWA are taking this legislation to their state legislatures to address and support the needs of the horse.”

House Bill 398 creates the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Council under the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The Council will assist, advise, and consult with the department on issues of equine health and welfare and will take action to help maintain the health, welfare, and safety of equines in the Commonwealth.

“From the pony in the backyard to the winner of the Kentucky Derby, the horse is special in this state,” said McKee, a veteran legislator and Harrison County farmer. “This bill is a step in the right direction toward improving the health and welfare of the horse.”

Co-sponsoring the bipartisan legislation is Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge; Rep. Ron Crimm, R-Louisville; Rep. Charlie Hoffman, D-Georgetown; Rep. Don Pasley, D-Winchester; Rep. Kent Stevens, D-Lawrenceburg; Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington; and Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville.

The bill is the first major initiative of the newly formed Equine Health and Welfare Alliance, Inc. (EHWA), a Kentucky-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to the proper care, maintenance, and treatment of the horse and all equines.

Organized by a group of leading equine veterinarians, EHWA is dedicated solely to improving the care and welfare of equines. 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.

The Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Council 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, visit www.equinehealthandwelfare.org.

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