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.


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!

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!

Animal Cruelty – One Last Consideration

Last week I thought I had pretty much wrapped up the animal cruelty discussion for a while. But on the way home tonight something came up that made me decide to address 1 last aspect of this world. It’s a point that we all should consider thoughtfully on occasion.

There is a growing body of literature that describes the links between cruelty and abuse of animals and the abuse visited by these same persons upon their human victims. Much of the literature provides evidence that in many cases animal cruelty is something of a training ground for perpetrators who then graduate to visiting violence upon the humans around them.

Now that’s sad and horrible but you’re probably thinking, “Durham, what does that have to do with the state vet and his staff?” Hold that thought for just another moment or 2.

In addition to the violence component, many (and I can’t quantify it beyond that relative term) of the people involved in cruelty, neglect or abuse cases that we investigate are involved in some type of drug-related activity. Some are manufacturing. Some are selling. Many are abusing drugs themselves.

I’ll go out on a limb here (not really if you think through things a bit) and suggest that in many of these cases these folks can no longer care for themselves (sometimes that includes their children too). So it’s not difficult to extrapolate logically to see they will become unable to care for their animals which will lead to calls to ADA or other law enforcement agencies.

Now consider another aspect of the scenario we talked about at the end of last week – a horse which has been neglected and its owner. I would say most of us become anxious with the arrival of uniformed officers at our homes. That may make some folks uncomfortable. But that is reality in many instances.

For the owner of the horse, that is the suspect in this neglect case, the unknown of the situation is itself often enough to cause heightened anxiety which can lead to rash behavior. The folks I’m discussing, those who are losing the ability to maintain themselves and their property also are likely not the most stable of citizens when put under additional stress, such as the arrival at their premises of persons wearing uniforms.

Investigating these matters can be highly charged situations. Caution is always warranted. I think most would agree that it is prudent these matters be dealt with by law enforcement officers (LEO) and not inspectors or lay people. Certainly there are times and situations which lend themselves to being safely appraised by non-law enforcement folks. But as a matter of policy we only have our sworn peace officers (Livestock Officers) investigate these matters on scene. Our inspectors may also investigate if accompanied by a LEO. We decided a few years back that the risk to personal safety was too great to allow otherwise.

The net result of that policy change was that our resources were spread even thinner. That’s another reason why we are actively engaged with the Arizona Horse Council in conducting Equine Neglect Training via AZ POST. We are hoping to broaden this educational effort by engaging in the police precincts and sheriff sub-stations through shift briefings and videos. FYI – the photo I’ve had locked as the header image for RTR (Roaming The Range) for the last few days was shot at the latest AZ POST Equine Neglect Class the first of October.

Integrity and Trust. These are what my attention was drawn to earlier and they are the final aspects which I wanted to address today.

The folks (sometimes veterinarians too!) who do walk into these situations where they are facing who-knows-what depend vitally on their fellow officers who are walking in there with them. Personal integrity and commitment must be unquestionable. Counting on someone to be at your shoulder or covering your back requires an inordinate amount of trust. The flip side of that trust is the integrity inherent in the accompanying partner or LEO.

In this case it’s not simply a slogan that “Character Counts”; it may become the determining factor which allows all parties to walk out of such a scenario when it has evolved into a very tense or violent situation.

Think on that one please while you’re enjoying the ride.

Welfare and Neglect Statutes Round 2

Picking up the welfare and neglect thread from where I left off, I thought I’d start this segment with a note about a matter that began in the last few days and is very pertinent. I was on the phone with a livestock officer roughly an hour ago. He and other officers were interviewing suspects in the killing of a cow. The cow was killed with softballs shot from a “spud gun”.

Let me begin by pointing out the criminal animal cruelty statute – ARS 13-2910 (“2910”). This body of law begins at 13-2910 then runs through 13-2910.09 – essentially 10 separate laws. Continuing on this point is the length of the law – nearly 2500 words. (Remember how hard it was to get to 500 words for a paper you had to turn in at school?)

An aside: the Declaration of Independence runs 1337 words including date and heading while The Constitution of the United States as originally written has a total word count of 4440, with 27 amendments it weighs in at 7591.

Now let’s get to the meat of the situation. This is CONVOLUTED so be patient. There are 8 sections (A – H) in 2910. Definitions are located at the end (H), while violations (13 in total) are located at the beginning (A), and the breakdown as to whether the violation is a misdemeanor (Class 1) or felony (Class 6) is addressed in (G). Got that? (and I’m just getting started!)

Definitions in the law (because you need to know or at least be able to find them to understand their consequences.)

1. “Animal” means a mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. [Important Point – Livestock Officers are restricted from enforcing this statute on animals which are not defined as livestock in ARS 3-1201(5).]

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.

4. “Handler” means a law enforcement officer or any other person who has successfully completed a course of training prescribed by the person’s agency or the service animal owner and who used a specially trained animal under the direction of the person’s agency or the service animal owner.

5. “Service animal” means an animal that has completed a formal training program, that assists its owner in one or more daily living tasks that are associated with a productive lifestyle and that is trained to not pose a danger to the health and safety of the general public.

6. “Working animal” means a horse or dog that is used by a law enforcement agency, that is specially trained for law enforcement work and that is under the control of a handler.


Now that we have some idea of Who’s on first? Here are what boils down to the ground rules (i.e. the violations). A person commits cruelty to animals if the person does any of the following:


8. Intentionally or knowingly subjects any animal under the person’s custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment that results in serious physical injury to the animal.

9. Intentionally or knowingly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

10. Intentionally or knowingly interferes with, kills or harms a working or service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.

11. Intentionally or knowingly allows any dog that is under the person’s custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal.

13. Intentionally or knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over a service animal with the intent to deprive the service animal handler of the service animal.


1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly subjects any animal under the person’s custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment.

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.

3. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts unnecessary physical injury to any animal.

4. Recklessly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

5. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly kills any animal under the custody or control of another person without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.

6. Recklessly interferes with, kills or harms a working or service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.

7. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result.

12. Recklessly allows any dog that is under the person’s custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal.

Activities such as animal fighting, tripping, exemptions, housing, etc are located in the sub-parts which I may address in a later post. This one is obviously already more than big enough.

I’m out of time. But I’ll pick this up in a day or 2 when I’ll try to address some specific situations. In the meantime, please try to digest the information above – and chew thoroughly!

Enjoy the ride.

Welfare and Neglect Statutes

Since we’ve had a recent spate of cases in the courts I thought I’d take some time to review the state statutes pertaining to neglect and cruelty. There are 2. Today’s post will focus on the 1 within the Ag Title. The 2nd is in the Criminal Title (13-2910).

ARS – Arizona Revised Statutes. Title 3 – Agriculture.

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

You can find the full statute here. At 800+ words, it runs a little long. But I’ve whittled it down to the main points below.

  1. Any person who believes an equine is in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment may petition a justice of the peace of the precinct or a city magistrate of the city in which the equine is found for an order authorizing ADA (AZ Dept of Ag) to take possession of and provide care for the equine for a fifteen-day period.
  2. The clerk of the court or justice of the peace after filing and docketing the petition, enters a brief statement of the petition and sets time for a hearing that is not less than five and not more than fifteen days after the petition is filed.
  3. The order shall not be issued unless the affidavit provides that the livestock custody trust fund established by section 3-1377 has a balance that permits the department to provide such care…
    1. That means the person must call ADA to verify there is money available for feed and care while the equine is impounded.
  4. On receiving the order, ADA shall take possession of the equine, along with serving the owner.
  5. If, at the hearing, it is determined that the equine at the time of taking possession was not in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment, the owner may immediately reclaim the equine and is not liable for costs involved.
  6. On failure of the owner to be awarded immediate, expense-free possession of the equine, ADA 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.
  7. The county attorney any time prior to the expiration of fifteen days after the seizure of the equine, may take charge of and keep the equine at the expense of the county when the county attorney considers it to be of evidentiary value in any criminal prosecution relating to the condition of the equine.
  8. In addition to violating ARS 13-2910, a person who subjects an equine to neglect or cruel treatment is subject to a civil penalty of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars for each violation.

As a quick summary, anyone who believes an equine (horses, donkeys, mules, or asses) is in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment can petition the court to be heard on the matter. All it takes is 1 phone call to verify ADA has funds to provide feed and care while it’s impounded AND the file a petition with the court.

The process is quick (in terms of court) in that it will be heard between 5 and 15 days; and decisive:  you get to make your case (if s/he chooses to hear the matter) in front of the judge who will decide the matter and the owner gets the same opportunity. Then the matter is decided. Additionally, if the matter is decided against the owner, that person may also face criminal charges.

This statute affords any person an avenue that is both direct and swift to redress what s/he believes to be a cruel or neglectful situation involving equine. That is considerable power. And power should always be wielded wisely and with due consideration. Perhaps being neighborly and trying to be helpful might be the first course to consider before taking the route to the courts.

Y’all enjoy the ride.

At The Barn

How many of you have your critters at someone else’s barn? Have you discussed the subject and written clear simple plans as to what is to be done in an emergency? Do you have such a plan for your own (big or little) operation at home?

I’m not specifically addressing medical issues, but I don’t want you to ignore those either. Like who makes the decision to call the vet if you can’t be reached? And is there an agreement on how the bill gets paid? Situations and friendships can go downhill in a hurry when times get tough. Think ahead.

Think about other matters too. Fire. Wind. Flash floods. How do you evacuate? Who grabs what? What’s the agreed upon out-bound route. Where do you meet up? Do you really think the cellular network won’t be overwhelmed?

I could sit here and write a bunch of questions. But instead of you reading those right now, why don’t you sit down and write out a short paragraph of how you envision your responses; what you would do, or those who care for your animals should do if you or they see fire within a few miles of your barn. Literally write yourself a short story and find all the holes now rather than in a real world event.

Then use that story as your blueprint for building contingency plans – supplies, contact points, specified roles and designated persons. There are probably several folks around the barn at any given time. Be the basis of a solution before you need one and share the load.

Gotta run. Enjoy the ride.

Disaster Planning

“Around our house we don’t bother planning disasters. They seem to happen well-enough on their own.”

If the above is a close description of normal for you and yours, welcome to the club.

In the past I’ve had folks ask about how they could help. (There are lots of different ways and answers for that simple question!) And about a year back I gave folks a brief primer on ICS. This year I’ll visit about disaster/emergency planning & responses before something starts burning. And I’ll give folks a bit of an update to some of the efforts in this vein.

Not that the top in disaster response is the most important, it isn’t really; the ground troops are. But sometimes it’s hard to get the best perspective when you’re underneath everything. So let me start at the top and work my way down, beginning with something we call SERRP.

For starters the State Emergency Response and Recovery Plan is extensive! The “Basic Plan” that’s publicly available at the page that I linked to above runs 40 pages; and that’s really just an overview. The full plan consists of a variety of ESFs – Emergency Support Functions (which also sometimes consist of Annexes, Appendices, and other add-ons.) These follow an outline laid down by the federal government – National Disaster Recovery Framework.

There are 15 ESFs in total with about a double-handful of annexes; the Department of Agriculture (ADA) is listed as a primary, secondary, or supporting agency in about half of these documents. For example ESF#6 – Mass Care, Housing and Human Services – includes responsibilities and plans addressing things like disaster housing (including animals). ESF#11 – Agriculture and Natural Resources – includes things like food security, safety, distribution as well as specific annexes for foreign animal diseases.

Let me take you a notch deeper into the system. Up above I pointed out that ADA is a primary state agency in some of the ESFs. Each Function defines what entity (or entities) has primary responsibility. It also lists secondary agencies. But here’s where we get back to the base question of how to help. ESF also lists the primary and any secondary supporting agencies.

These are the various organizations of volunteers and concerned individuals, non-governmental organizations/charities that have come forward and stated they will provide assistance in time of disaster. Some of these organizations are the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association, Arizona Humane Society, and Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Members of these groups along with myself and folks from AGFD, USDA APHIS WS and VS also have formed AZSART – Arizona State Animal Response Team. If you think of it as a steering committee for developing the supporting organizations’ people and capabilities, you’re on the right track.

Here’s something of a run-down:

SERRP > ESF (mulitples) > ADA (primarily Animal Services Division) > Secondary Agencies (e.g. AGFD) > Supporting Agencies (e.g. AZVMA) > SART, etc > CART (County Animal Response Teams), etc > Volunteer

A few weeks back about a dozen volunteers went through training on how to decontaminate animals (primarily focused on pets). Thanks John Reynolds! Last fall we had our first orientation and training session for folks who wanted to be part of local emergency response efforts. More will be held as we develop the capacity to do so. Stay tuned for details.

And enjoy the ride.