Kearney River Fire

Did you know the folks in the Department’s Livestock Service and the State Vet’s Office respond to various disasters?

On Wednesday June 17, 2015 around 3:30 pm, Arizona Department of Agriculture received a phone call from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Dispatcher requesting assistance near the town of Kearny with livestock which were threatened by the Kearny River Fire.

By 7:00 pm, ADA-Animal Services Division had deployed 5 Livestock Officers, 3 Livestock Inspectors (including one with a horse and roping experience), 1 Assistant State Veterinarian, 8 trucks, 6 livestock trailers, 1 mobile veterinary unit and 1 Incident Response trailer.

The ADA response team was dismissed at noon on Thursday June 18, 2015.  During deployment, ADA personnel assisted several area residents with fire-related livestock issues including evacuating livestock, providing veterinary medical assistance, and escorting residents to retrieve feed and to check on the status of livestock left in evacuated areas.

Thanks to all folks and organizations who responded and provided assistance.


HPAI – Some Numbers

Folks, USDA APHIS has what they titled an ALL FINDINGS page with lots of numbers on the current High Pathology Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak. For example:

Detections Reported: 147

Birds Affected: 30,731,873 (yes that is 30 million-plus)

There is also a sortable table with locations, bird types, virus types and other pertinent data.

It’s a great place to get up to speed in a hurry on this situation.

Behind the Scenes: Producers Prepared

Poultry and Egg Producers, are you ready for HPAI?

Since March, media has spread the word about the history of HPAI in the US and countries banning US poultry and egg imports. Fortunately, they have also advised that humans are considered to be at low risk of contracting H5 HPAI and as of today, no human H5 HPAI infections have been detected.

What the media is not sharing are the preparedness efforts taking place behind-the-scenes to minimize risk of HPAI exposure to poultry and egg producers. One of these efforts would be the Secure Egg Supply Plan.

This plan has measures in place to ensure eggs are safe for consumption and available. Egg movement is a concern for spreading the disease through the industry and to other birds, but there is no indication that a person could contract AI through eating eggs. The SES plan contains specific science and risk based recommendations necessary for federal and state official’s to use; allowing the permit processing for egg movement to be expedited during an HPAI outbreak.

The SES plan has a voluntary preparedness component and those businesses choosing to participate aim to be compliant with a 45 item biosecurity checklist, verified GPS coordinates and have training on epidemiology questionnaires, sample collection and submission as well as data entry into the SES portal to be conducive to an active surveillance program. To date, five State Animal Health Officials have requested to be enrolled in the SES voluntary preparedness plan and many more are showing interest as the outbreaks of HPAI are on the rise.

Egg Producers-the great thing about this plan is non-infected commercial egg businesses utilizing this plan can move eggs without unnecessary disruption thus reducing incidence of cold storage back-up and spoiled eggs.

The main point is be proactive rather than reactive and as a result those who choose to take part in this preparedness plan will be better equipped to handle an outbreak if one should occur on their premise.

For more information on the SES plan please see:

Timing Has A Lot To Do With The Success Of A Rain Dance

I hadn’t planned on visiting the subject of Animals in the Road and the various legal ramifications again any time soon. But as the title of this post denotes, “Timing has a lot to do with the success of a rain dance” which is right up there with another veterinary truism – “Strike while the iron’s hot.” So I’ll take the hint and spend just a little more time on the subject.

At 0443 today my phone was ringing. Most of you probably understand that’s no big surprise. On the other end was an officer along a highway (again, not a surprise) who had attended last Friday’s Table Top Exercise. Now the story starts to get interesting. Remember I talked about how many trailers loaded with hundreds of thousands of animals are traveling the roads every day?

The SGT in question has been working the graveyard shift for a few weeks now. Early this morning a part of the eastern horizon in this young man’s patrol area lit up a little earlier and a little smaller than usual. Guess what? A trailer load of fat cattle had caught on fire!



As you can see from the picture aluminum melts when it gets hot enough, say from a burning rubber tire. And yes, there were cattle in the compartment involved.

Fortunately with quick thinking and quick acting, losses were kept to 2 animals.

No doubt training played a role (with a little luck) in minimizing the losses. Just 3 days prior the SGT had received instructions not only on the legal ramifications of the situation, but also the practical, tactical information on how to swiftly and humanely euthanize various species in circumstances such as this. What’s that adage about people making their own luck? and all things come to him who waits – provided he hustles while he’s waiting? And no doubt the benefit of modern comm tech was huge. I was looking at stills and video within 10 minutes of the initial call.

The point I’ll ask your indulgence for me to make plainly, is because ADA-ASD-SVO staff had put on the training exercise, have been doing the leg work in building bridges to other agencies and communities, and spending effort urging other folks and groups to get involved in livestock matters, the SGT involved in this situation was prepared to deal with the mess effectively, safely and quickly.

I think that says a lot about this group’s ability to build functional response capacity across the state. For me, that’s a very gratifying moment.

Remember to enjoy the ride.

Seizure and Property Destruction

As a follow up to last week’s exercise concerning animals in the road, I thought I’d post some of the various statutes and rules that pertain in these situations, especially ones concerning seizures and destruction of private property. I’m trying to convey a “legal lay of the land” if you will.

So I’ll be highlighting laws of dominion and ownership, movement requirements, disease control, etc. Remember, most of these are excerpts, not the full statutory verbiage. I encourage you to do your research. And be forewarned – this is a long one.

The Constitution of the United States. Amendment V.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Livestock and Ownership Law

ARS 3-1201. Definitions.

4. “Equine” means horses, mules, burros and asses.
5. “Livestock” means cattle, equine, sheep, goats and swine, except feral pigs.
7. “Poultry” means any domesticated bird, whether live or dead, and includes chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, ratites and squabs.
8. “Range” means every character of lands, enclosed or unenclosed, outside of cities and towns, upon which livestock is permitted by custom, license or permit to roam and feed.
9. “Range livestock” means livestock customarily permitted to roam upon the ranges of the state, whether public domain or in private control, and not in the immediate actual possession or control of the owner although occasionally placed in enclosures for temporary purposes.

ARS § 3-1293. Procedure for owner to authorize another person to deal with animals; violation.

A. A person who desires to authorize another person to gather, drive or otherwise handle animals bearing the recorded brand or mark owned by the person granting the authority, or animals of which he is the lawful owner but which bear other brands or marks, shall furnish the other person an authority in writing which lists the brands or marks authorized to be handled, and authorizes the other person to gather, drive or otherwise handle the animals described.

ARS § 3-1291. Bill of sale required in transfer of livestock.

Upon the sale or transfer of livestock, except dairy calves under thirty days of age, delivery of the animals shall be accompanied by a written and acknowledged bill of sale from the vendor to the purchaser.

ARS § 3-1261. Adoption and recording of brand and earmark; brand as property right; sale or transfer.

A. Every person owning range livestock in this state shall adopt and record a brand with the division with which to brand such livestock. Branding shall be performed by a hot iron, freezing, acid or any other method that will result in a permanent mark. Any person owning range livestock may also record an earmark with which to mark such livestock as long as the earmark is not recorded for use by neighboring range livestock owners. Sheep shall be marked distinctly with a mark or device sufficient to distinguish them. Every owner of other animals may adopt a brand or earmark with which to brand or earmark such animals.

ARS § 3-1340. Unbranded livestock kept in close confinement; shipment, sale and inspection.

A. Owners of livestock, other than equines, who do not have a recorded brand and who maintain their animals in close confinement not exceeding ten acres may transport their animals to livestock auctions licensed in this state, feedlots licensed in this state or slaughter plants licensed in this state without first having those animals inspected if the shipment does not exceed five cattle or calves or ten sheep.
B. Animals shipped, conveyed or transported under this section shall be accompanied by proof of ownership, such as auction invoices or inspection certificates which the owner received at the time of purchase.

ARS § 3-1336. Inspection of livestock to be slaughtered, sold or transported; fee; violation; classification.

A. Except as otherwise provided in this section, livestock, other than equines and livestock inspected at feedlots or dairies pursuant to section 3-1337, shall not be slaughtered, sold, purchased, driven, transported, shipped or conveyed unless the animals have been inspected by a livestock officer or inspector for health, brands and marks before they are slaughtered, sold, purchased, driven, transported, shipped or conveyed and the inspection fee paid.

ARS § 3-1401. Definition of stray animal.

“Stray animal” as used in this article means livestock, bison or ratites whose owner is unknown or cannot be located, or any such animal whose owner is known but permits the animal to roam at large on the streets, alleys, roads, range or premises of another without permission, except that this section does not apply to livestock where the principles of a federal permit, federal allotment or federal lease are in dispute.

Seizure and Destruction

 ARS § 3-1371. Seizure of livestock by a livestock officer.

Livestock officers shall seize livestock, except unweaned animals running with their mothers, wherever found and when the livestock officer questions the livestock’s ownership. The question of ownership may be raised in the following circumstances:
1. The livestock is not branded as required by this chapter.
2. The ownership of the livestock is questioned by another person.
3. The livestock has brands so mutilated, indistinct, burned or otherwise disfigured as to be difficult of ascertainment.
4. The livestock bears a brand which is not recorded.
5. The livestock is freshly branded and not found with its mother.
6. The livestock has a brand or mark which is not the recorded brand or mark of the owner.
7. The livestock is that which is known as “leppys,” “orejanas,” “sleepers,” “dogies” or “mavericks.”
8. Other circumstances raising questions as to the livestock’s ownership.

ARS § 3-1205. Control of animal diseases…

B. The state veterinarian may enter any place where a suspected animal or poultry may be and take custody of the animal or poultry for the purpose of determining the presence of a contagious, infectious or communicable disease.
C. The director may direct the state veterinarian and agency employees to:
2. Destroy animals or poultry when necessary to prevent the spread of any infectious, contagious or communicable disease.

ARS § 3-1742. Entry upon premises to inspect animals; condemnation of diseased animals.

A. The state veterinarian and inspectors may enter any place where an animal may be and take custody of the animal to examine it for contagious disease, including tuberculosis. Custody may be retained for the purpose of applying the tuberculin test to the animal.
B. If the animal reacts to the test, the inspecting officer may immediately condemn the animal and order it destroyed.

ARS § 3-1721. Petition 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.

D. On failure of the owner to be awarded immediate, expense-free possession of the equine pursuant to subsection C of this section, the department shall either sell the equine at public auction or, if the equine’s condition makes its sale impractical, dispose of the equine in the most humane manner possible.

AAC R3-2-605. Quarantine for Animals Entering Illegally.

B. The State Veterinarian may request that an imported animal failing to meet entry requirements be returned to the state of origin, consigned directly to slaughter, confined to a designated feedlot, or consigned to a feedlot in another state within two weeks of the request. Any extension to this time-frame shall be approved in writing by the State Veterinarian.

Severity of Infractions

ARS § 3-1307. Unlawfully killing, selling or purchasing livestock of another; classification; civil penalty; exception.

A. A person who knowingly kills or sells livestock of another, the ownership of which is known or unknown, or who knowingly purchases livestock of another, the ownership of which is known or unknown, from a person not having the lawful right to sell or dispose of such animals, is guilty of a class 5 felony.
B. A person who knowingly attempts to take or does take all or any part of a carcass of any such animal, pursuant to subsection A, for such person’s own use, the use of others or for sale is guilty of a class 5 felony.
C. In addition to any other penalty imposed by this section, a person depriving the owner of the use of his animal or animals under subsection A or B of this section shall be liable to the owner for damages equal to three times the value of such animal or animals.
D. This section shall not apply to taking up animals under the estray laws.

ARS § 13-2910. Cruelty to animals; interference with working or service animal; classification; definitions.

A. A person commits cruelty to animals if the person does any of the following:
2. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly fails to provide medical attention necessary to prevent protracted suffering to any animal under the person’s custody or control.
H. For the purposes of this section:
2. “Cruel mistreatment” means to torture or otherwise inflict unnecessary serious physical injury on an animal or to kill an animal in a manner that causes protracted suffering to the animal.
3. “Cruel neglect” means to fail to provide an animal with necessary food, water or shelter.

Traffic Control

ARS § 28-858. Approaching horses and livestock.

A person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway and approaching a horse-drawn vehicle, a horse on which a person is riding or livestock being driven on the highway shall exercise reasonable precaution to prevent frightening and to safeguard the animals and to ensure the safety of persons riding or driving the animals. If the animals appear frightened, the person in control of the vehicle shall reduce its speed and if requested by signal or otherwise shall not proceed further toward the animals unless necessary to avoid accident or injury until the animals appear to be under control.

Liability Protections

ARS § 32-2261 Emergency aid; nonliability.

“Any person licensed or certified pursuant to this chapter who gratuitously and in good faith gives emergency treatment to a sick or injured animal at the scene of an emergency shall not be liable in damages to the owner of such animal in the absence of gross negligence.”

ARS § 26-314(C) Immunity of state, political subdivisions and officers, agents and emergency workers; limitation; rules.

“Emergency workers engaging in emergency management activities… shall have the same degree of responsibility for their actions, and enjoy the same immunities and disability workers’ compensation benefits as officers, agents and employees of the state… Coverage is provided if the emergency worker is acting within the course and scope of assigned duties and is engaged in an authorized activity, except for actions of wilful misconduct, gross negligence or bad faith.”

ARS § 26-353 Emergency response; immunity.

“A licensed, certified or authorized emergency responder and its employees at the scene of an emergency, when the emergency response is provided in good faith, have the immunities provided in section 26-314 in carrying out the provisions of this article”.

Agency Cooperation

ARS § 3-1379. Notification required on seizure by government agencies.

All federal, state and local governmental agencies shall notify the department within two hours of any seizure of any livestock or property in or on which livestock is present or when a person responsible for the care of any livestock is taken into custody and the person from the federal, state or local governmental agency knows that the person taken into custody is responsible for the care of any livestock.


How many of you noticed there is no language addressing humane euthanasia in situations like our table top exercise addressed? That’s correct. Not even the state veterinarian is vested with that power. The argument I put forth essentially boils down to avoiding criminal cruelty charges. Because if you are the authority and take custody of an animal, then you do not prevent protracted suffering, you are most certainly looking at an animal cruelty violation.

Think on that one while you enjoy the ride.

Animals in the Road

Today we hosted a Table Top Exercise (TTX) to discuss and train on the issue of “Animals in the Road”. (We being ADA’s Animal Services Division and the State Vet’s Office) If you’re wondering why this concerns us as much as it does, here’s a good example from near Sunset Point in 2011.

Several folks from many different agencies participated. AZ Dept of Transportation (ADOT), Pinal and Maricopa Counties’ Emergency Managers, AZ Dept of Public Safety (DPS) staff, along with several fire departments’ and county sheriff’s offices’ personnel attended the half-day session. Our thanks to all those who came and contributed to developing a better response capability.

There aren’t a lot of extensive data on how large the issue is. But here are a few conservative figures. Roughly 50 million cattle are transported annually in the US. The swine industry estimates that over 600,000 pigs are moving every day. The number of small horse and livestock trailers on the road everyday is nearly countless.

From a Canadian researcher, between 2000 and 2007 there were over 400 crashes in US and Canada.

  • Weather was a factor in only 1%
  • Driver fatigue and error were the main causes – 85%
  • ~60% occurred between midnight and 9am
  • 80% involved a single vehicle.

I hope you’re getting an understanding of why this is important to us.

The discussion today focused on a few main points – (1) the legal situations that come into play, (2) the practical aspects of dealing with mangled trailers and loose or injured livestock, and (3) the responsibilities and capabilities of the various groups and agencies which respond.

There were 2 scenarios.

The first involved a pick up truck and trailer hauling several horses. It was traveling southbound on the interstate when the driver lost control, struck a guardrail causing the truck and the trailer to overturn. This scenario had an unconscious driver along with loose and injured horses. The crash was blocking 2 lanes of traffic.

The second involved a semi-tractor hauling a load of cattle. The driver lost control resulting in a crash with the tractor trailer sliding on its side and the trailer coming to rest dangling over a ravine.

Both these scenarios were taken from real-life situations.

I’ll leave the details of those scenarios and the discussions and recommendations for a latter post. But within the next few days I hope to post much of the material presented and discussed on the blog for others’ benefit. If you’re interested in learning how to effectively help in situations like these, please contact our office.

And remember to enjoy the ride!

AZ Statutes and the State Vet

Given that we are supposed to be a nation of laws which are to be enacted by those we elect to represent us, I thought it might be educational to enumerate the laws that pertains to the office of State Veterinarian in AZ. Each one contains a link to the actual online version of the statute.

The rules that pertains (ie the sections of AZ Administrative Code) are too lengthy to include but realize the statutes are what authorize any rule to be promulgated.

Lastly I’ll point out 3-1205 and 3-1742. Those authorize the state veterinarian to enter and seize under certain conditions. That’s a lot of power which should be used cautiously, as there’s a very old and true saying about power.

Title 3: Agriculture


Article 1. Department of Agriculture


Article 4. Brucellosis Control


Chapter 15. Animal and Bird Feeds

Article 3. Garbage Fed to Swine

Title 17: Game and Fish



Title 36: Public Health and Safety


Article 9. Enhanced Surveillance Advisories and Public Health Emergencies

118th USAHA Meeting

I just returned from the 118th Annual Meeting of the United States Animal Health Association which was held in conjunction with the 57th Annual Conference of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. Obviously these folks have been around a while. This means some of us are starting to move a little slower than we used to; it also means many have seen disasters and concerns from large to small, be met and successfully overcome. That’s probably a good thought to keep in mind some days.

This post will hopefully provide ya’ll some insight and highlights from the meeting. I hope it helps folks get a sense of what folks in my line of work are trying to do to mitigate the various threats to human and animal health. I also hope to impress upon folks the huge scope of the job. In the meeting program, I count 33 committees which have been formed to address subjects ranging from Animal Emergency Management to Bluetongue & Related Orbiviruses to Foreign & Emerging Diseases to who-knows-what.

Here’s a sampler of some of the presentations:

  • Foot and Mouth Vaccine Surge Capacity for Use in the U.S.A.
  • The Impact of Movements and Animal Density on Continental Scale Cattle Disease Outbreaks in the United States
  • Emerging Diseases of Global Concern with a Focus on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
  • Merging Pathogen Surveillance and Research: Stealth Persistence of an Ema Superfamily Variant of Theirleria equi
  • The Significance of Surra as an Infection in Horses
  • Trends in Food Safety: Public Perception versus Reality

Obviously some of the discussion occur up there in some very rarefied air. Just about every species known comes up in some place or fashion. However much of what is discussed is at the boots-on-the-ground level. Much information is spread informally as we talk with our peers about things tried in other locales along with what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.

A good example of this would be information on how the folks in the state vet’s office in Washington dealt with the SAR (search and rescue) dogs that were deployed following the massive Oso, WA mudslide in March, 2014.

Not only do the people involved in SAR need a lot of support, so do the animals involved such as the dogs who help locate trapped individuals or recover bodies. Those dogs get all sorts of cuts, abrasions, bruises and become covered with contaminated materials of all types. Vets, vet techs and others accompany these response units to support these “first responders”. A small case in point: too many baths aren’t good for their coats or their skin. Sometimes detergents like Dawn are just the thing (like dealing with oil spills). But sometimes an old fashioned oatmeal bath does the trick. Sharing knowledge of what works in the real world is vital.

Just as vital is having folks engaged in the business of producing and protecting the food and fiber production systems in the country. Give it some thought. And give us a call. We can probably find a place for you to help and something you might find interesting as well.

Enjoy the ride!