Arizona Livestock Board History

While working on a new Policy and Procedures Manual for the folks in the field who now report to the State Veterinarian, I came across the following. It was the preface in a policy manual dated September, 1992.

I can’t attest to its accuracy though the details do coincide with many things I have heard in the time I’ve been in Arizona. It does make for some interesting reading as well as provide perspective on the road from where we were to where we are today.


On March 10, 1887, a law passed by the Territorial legislature created a three-member Territorial Livestock Sanitary Commission which included provisions for the appointment of a Territorial Veterinary Surgeon. The Governor of the territory, C. Meyer Zullick, at the State Capitol in Prescott, was to nominate a skilled veterinary surgeon for the position who would serve for a period of two years unless removed sooner by the Commission.

On March 19, 1891, the Commission was empowered to appoint livestock inspectors to enforce livestock laws.

On March 21, 1895, the Livestock Code was revised, and brand owners were required to register their brands in the office of the Livestock Commission. Previously they had been recorded by the county.

In 1897 all county livestock brands were transferred to the Territorial Livestock Sanitary Board Office.

Arizona’s first Brand Book was published about 1897.

Arizona attained Statehood February 14, 1912, and the Territorial Livestock Commission became the Livestock Sanitary Board.

In 1931 a law was passed by the Arizona State Legislature requiring re-registration of livestock brands every ten years. A new Brand Book was published after each re-registration.

In 1939 the “Conflict Law” was passed preventing the recording of a brand that resembles a previously recorded brand, especially for the same general location on the animal.

In 1985 a law was passed by the Arizona Legislature requiring re-registration of livestock brands every five years.

In 1990 the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) was created and the Livestock Board became the foundation for the Animal Services Division of the AZDA.

There are approximately 15,000 brands registered by the Brand Office.

For those with an interest, the folks at Google have digitized a copy of the 1887 Revised Statutes of Arizona (which bears a New York Public Library stamp from 1899) which is referenced in the opening of that preface. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions as to its authenticity.

Now roughly 20 years later there are approximately 12,250 registered brands with a little over 2000 active. It seems most folks like to hang on to a little piece of history or their heritage even when they don’t have any livestock to brand.

One Health

Ever notice how the good ideas almost always come to mind when it’s impossible for you to record them in any way, shape, form or fashion? ARGHH!!

I had a good one for today’s post. I still do. It’s just that I seem to have misplaced it in some dusty corner of my brain – and there’s a lot of dust up there.

It’ll come to me – eventually.

Ta Daaa! It did come to me – eventually!

One Health

What’s One Health and why is it a topic in the livestock world? I’m glad you asked. Here’s the intro from their web site…

The One Health Initiative is a movement to forge co-equal, all inclusive collaborations between physicians, osteopaths, veterinarians, dentists, nurses and other scientific-health and environmentally related disciplines, including the American Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). Additionally, more than 600 prominent scientists, physicians and veterinarians worldwide have endorsed the initiative.

Yep – more than a mouthful. But let me try to translate that into hillbilly (btw I’m from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.)

Whether the animal is 2-legged or 4-legged, the growth, development, diseases and afflictions involved share an awful lot in common. So the folks involved with caring for those animals would probably work a whole lot more effectively if they looked at it from a common point of understanding rather than how different, special, or better each of our specialties is.

The concept seems to be moving out beyond the scientist/doctor arena. Here’s a snippet from a report on The National League of Cities, “…adopted an historic One Health Resolution at its annual business meeting in Phoenix, AZ (USA) on November 12, 2011.”

Now back to why the state vet thinks this is important. Here’s where the rubber meets the road for us in the SVO and ultimately you – our surveillance and monitoring of animal movements and diseases creates an early warning system for people, in addition to protecting some folks’ property and mitigating threats to your food and fiber supply. A real good recent example – West Nile Virus epidemic and birds dying in New York City.

Remember to enjoy the ride.

Government Animal Shelters

Who would’ve thought the state vet is involved with government-run animal shelters and pounds around the state? My guess is that most folks who were aware that AZ has a state veterinarian would not have guessed there’s a responsibility to animal shelters. And yep, they’d be wrong.

So since I’ve received a handful of calls on this matter in the last few weeks, I thought it would make a good topic today.

There are a few places in statute that spell out the 2 obligations (that I’m aware of) the state vet has to government-run animal shelters. You’ve probably noticed I’ve been specific with what type of shelters the law pertains to. That’s because the statutes are very clear. My responsibility only extends to county, city or town animal shelters or pounds. So this post has nothing to do with any shelter being operated by an NGO (non-governmental organization e.g. The Yavapai Humane Society.)

ARS 3-1213Acquisition and use of sodium pentobarbital or T-61 euthanasia solution by county and local pounds spells out a certain situation and resulting obligations. Simply put, if there is a shelter without a veterinarian on staff or under contract, the state vet must facilitate acquiring the drugs necessary for euthanizing animals as well as set out the procedures that are to be followed for euthanasia.

This requires (1) obtaining a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) license for the shelter because the drugs involved are closely regulated. Normally only certain folks are eligible. In this situation, a process has been put into place with our local DEA office to facilitate this via a responsible party for the shelter that we will approve. Point (2) involves procedures that the shelter staff should follow.

ARS 11-1021Proper care, maintenance and destruction of impounded animals defines what is required of the governing body under whose authority the shelter is operating. This is where the procedures to follow for care as well as euthanasia come into play. And frankly to the best of my knowledge that procedure has never been put into place nor published to the government agencies that may require them.

Yes that worries me. Yes I hope (and I believe) most shelters are operating with a vet either on staff or under contract so that there is not a pothole in this road of animal care.

But since there have been those calls that I mentioned earlier which instigated this post, in addition to the worry, I’m working on getting those procedures in print and then to the folks who need them. So if you happen to be aware of a shelter who may need such guidance, please point them to either this post or to the folks at the state vet’s office.

Now the other aspect of this situation that I want to point out involves the management of the operation; or who actually has responsibility to ensure the procedures are being followed in a given town shelter which ARS 11-1021 points out clearly: the governing body of the county, city or town.

The reason this matter can become critical is this. Since these shelters do not provide service to the public as is the case with a veterinary practice or NGO shelter (in essence they only perform acts on their own animals) their operation is not covered under the Veterinary Practice Act in this state.

I know it may seem that I’m going around my elbow to get somewhere. But this boils down to a situation where the folks providing care in these shelters are not required to have any special training nor hold any particular certification as they would be required if they did the same procedures in the other settings I just mentioned. Not that the folks aren’t trained or doing a good job. I expect the vast majority are competent. But I thought making the situation clear was worth the time invested.

Don’t Shoot That Cow!

In one of my first posts here on I mentioned something about a lawful fence. I was watching snow fall in Payson most of yesterday. Now I’m catching up on some of yesterday’s mail and I’ve come across the latest version of a familiar complaint. In this case it was what sounded like a rather loud version – “CATTLE ARE EATING MY HAY; THEIR FENCE IS DOWN SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE OR I’M GOING TO START SHOOTING CATTLE!.”

Important Point: we’re outside city limits in the situation under discussion.

There are a few laws at play in this particular incident. Those of you who’ve read through this column will likely recognize a primary one – the right of livestock to roam the range whether public or private. There are a couple of others that are equally important. The first one I want to mention is ARS3-1307Unlawfully killing, selling or purchasing livestock of another; classification; civil penalty; exception

The gentleman that I mentioned in the first paragraph does not have the right to shoot the cattle that came onto his property and ate his hay. That would likely be considered a violation of the criminal cruelty statute. Additionally he is expressly forbidden by law from killing the livestock of another in such a manner, and doing so is a felony offense.

But the main point I wanted to make in this post is that the law does provide recourse in these situations, even to the extent of providing for damages to be paid, provided those cattle came through a lawful fence on their way to damaging this gentleman’s property. So I’d recommend venting your frustrations through the courts versus the gun barrel.

The onus is on the property owner to fence livestock out if the owner does not want them on her/his property. AND the livestock owner has the responsibility to get them off another’s property when notified that her/his livestock have strayed (in the legal sense of the word.) But if the owner doesn’t want those livestock straying onto her/his property in the first place, s/he needs to erect a lawful fence to keep them out. Also if the property owner wants to be able to claim damages from straying livestock, there must be a lawful fence.

You can follow the link to the actual statute if you’d like. There are only a couple of paragraphs and it gets very explicit – 4 strands of barbed wire, posts no more than 30 feet apart along with several other specifics. Paragraph B does also give the fence builder who wants something other than barbed wire an option, so long as it is “equally as strong and otherwise effective to turn livestock“.

Now the reason I point this out is simple. Statute clearly provides for the angry property owner in the introduction, as well as others, to be compensated for damages done by livestock straying onto his property, if they’ve come through a lawful fence. If you don’t have that fence up, you should probably channel your anger and frustration into building one and then be entitled to compensation for damages. Trespass is the word used in ARS3-1427 and it’s written specifically stating the owner is not entitled to recover unless the animal/s went through a lawful fence, except in the circumstance of the property being in a no-fence district.

Frankly trying to explain no-fence district makes my head ache all the way down to the base of my brain. And I’ve not had nearly enough coffee for that yet. But I will tackle it at a later time. For the time being though, I’m not aware of any such no-fence districts in the state. Not that there aren’t. But that I’m not aware of any. If you want to find out in your specific situation, you’ll need to contact your County Board of Supervisors.

We’ll also cover the killing of livestock statute in more detail at a later date. For the time being though, enjoy the ride!

ARS3-1721 aka Equine Neglect

3-1721Petition of seizure; notice of seizure; lien for expenses; forced sale; disposition of proceeds; nonliability of state; neglect or cruel treatment of equine; civil penalty; legal representation

Now that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? And the entire statutue runs over 800 words! So I’ll do a little paraphrasing, starting with boiling down the first sentence – which weighs in at 66 words! (It’s a good thing that a southerner’s education is dosed liberally with Faulkner!)

Essentially the first line says that any person who believes an equine is in poor physical condition because of neglect may petition the court to have the Department of Agriculture seize the equine and provide care for 15 days. There’s also a need for the person to verify the Dept of Ag has funds available to pay for the care through this period.

If the judge grants the petition, s/he will set a hearing date. At that hearing each party will present their argument as to why the horse is or is not in poor physical condition due to neglect. Please realize that I just put in an owner or someone making an argument for the seized equine into our scenario and that may not be the case. This situation could very well have been a horse without a known owner. But in this scenario, the judge then will decide where the horse winds up: going back to where it was, or becoming property of the Dept of Ag to be sold at public auction.

I want to specifically bring to light one other option provided by this statute in the situation where the owner is not awarded the equine back. In paragraph D you’ll find the following: if the equine’s condition makes its sale impractical, dispose of the equine in the most humane manner possible.

I see hay prices at feed stores are up to $18/bale and still rising right along with those non-core inflation items called food & fuel. Sadly I foresee during the course of the upcoming winter many horses potentially traveling down this last road. Having been neglected to the point of no return and having no one with the resources to provide long-term care, I fear many will ultimately be humanely euthanized by myself or others in the State Veterinarian’s Office. Not a thought I enjoy. But I believe it’s better than the alternatives of starving to death or dying of hypothermia.

The final point about this statute that I wanted to make is that this is a civil matter, not criminal. There is language specifically addressing civil penalties in addition to the loss of property the (now former) owner suffers. That penalty has a maximum of $750 per violation. Additionally it specifies that the county attorney may keep the equine if s/he considers it to be of evidentiary value in any criminal prosecution relating to the condition of the equine. In other words, the owner may well face criminal charges under ARS3-2910 after the civil proceedings are concluded.

BRRR It’s Cold Out There!

Did you know that cold weather makes horses skinnier?

Now that’s not like you or me when we’re shivering and trying to pull ourselves into tighter knots to stay warm while watching a football game (well, when the football games were played outside anyway.)

Cold weather makes horses (and any other beast out there) skinnier because of the increased energy demand just to keep normal metabolism going. Meeting that energy demand comes with a price: either belly up to the trough more often or convert some of that existing fat into glucose (blood sugar in many locales). So if the groceries aren’t available to meet the demand, then the fat’s going to start mobilizing and melting away.

Now depending on the extremes of the colder weather and the current body condition of the horse, the time it takes for that effect to be noticeable isn’t all that long. AND it gets hidden by another adaptive response – longer hair coats.

BTW – BCS = Body Condition Score
This is a way of judging how much fat an animal, in this case a horse, has stored in various places in and on its body. A system developed at Texas A&M about 20 years ago has gained widespread use in evaluating horse condition. And while I’m on the topic of judging fat stores, an analogous system was developed many, many years ago for grading meat into categories such as choice or prime. Both systems incorporate our knowledge of how energy is transformed into fat and deposited in various tissues throughout the body.

In addition to living with livestock all my life, I spent just about all of the 1990s in the animal feed industry. Myself and another fellow even wound up re-vamping the entire equine product line at one point. My point? There are many different ways to feeding horses, many different aspects of managing the feeding of horses, and everyone of them hinges on an astute horseman.

I came across a helpful little guide that provides some figures for how much more bad weather might drive your feed bill up, err, I mean how much more hay you might need to feed. Take a look here. That site’s helpful even for the astute horseman because it gives you solid figures as to how much more to be feeding. This way the horse doesn’t have to lose significant weight before you notice it. And that’s a big help when you feed before the sun comes up and after the sun’s gone down just so you can get to work to pay for that hay you were feeding.

Ultimately today’s note is really about how the winter weather is going to escalate the needs of horses and the demands on the time of the handful of officers, inspectors and deputies (which is our term for part-timers) we have. Through this coming winter the skinny horses are likely to get skinnier. And equine in poor physical condition is the key point of a particular statute that I’m going to address in detail in the next installment.

Enjoy the ride!

It’s raining!

Or snowing, depending on your elevation.

BTW – You did know that timing has an awful lot to do with the success of a rain dance, didn’t you? So if you want to be successful, just keep dancin’!

The rain brings to mind the concept of shelter. So here’s another pertinent reference in statute (ARS3-2910 to be specific).

H. For the purposes of this section: 3. "Cruel neglect" means to fail to provide an animal with necessary food, water or shelter.

”Necessary shelter” is the part that came to mind earlier. Often times we receive calls from the public asking about shade for horses. I generally try to make sure I include the above citation in that conversation and discuss how there can be many interpretations of that phrase. Now let me offer a historical perspective.

By and large the wild horses in this part of the world descended from stock the Spanish brought with them during their explorations. In rough numbers that’s about 500 years. Those horses have managed to survive, sometimes thrive with the food, water and shelter the natural environment provided. In some locales this is still the case today. (I recently read a study in the American Journal of Veterinary Research about Australian feral horses. The study surveyed 5 bands in distinctly different environments – most we’d consider harsh. The numbers of horses were increasing 20%/yr during the period of the study.)

So has the mesquite, palo verde and occasional ironwood tree been sufficient? Or if we consider a little wider range, the palouse river valley with its rolling hills and prairies (and Appaloosa Horses)? Seems to me to often be so. And that’s also my intro into the cases of “necessary” shelter.

If you have an albino horse, or paint, or any horse with lots of white hair and un-pigmented skin, then maybe that animal needs shelter from the sun. Or some liver dysfunction that also leads to what we call photosensitization that essentially leads to what a lot of folks would call sunburn, then maybe that horse needs shelter from the sun too. The key here is “necessity” because otherwise we are not managing the situation to maintain the animal’s good health.

The flip side of the story? If you look around, you’ll see a lot of horses standing outside the shades their owners have put up. Some seem to prefer the sun; some are trying to avoid flies; mostly who knows why? They simply don’t care to be “sheltered” by that shade. That makes it awfully difficult to call shade a necessity.

FYI – you can find sub-sections of the main cruelty statute by going to the criminal title then scrolling down to 13-2910.01 – 13-2910.09