It has been over 30 years and there is still no vaccine or treatment for horses that are carriers of EIA. (Equine Infectious Anemia) Millions of dollars have been spent and thousands of beloved horses have been ripped away from their owners simply because they carry an antibody in their bloodstream. Dr. Issel, from the University of Kentucky, has stated that the Inapparent Carrier only has a 1 in 6 Million chance of ever transmitting the disease to another horse. Researchers now know how it is spread, but, they do not know where it comes from. That means it will be very difficult to eradicate the disease. Even if every horses in the US were tested, it would only mean they were negative for EIA that moment, of that day. Just because your horse tested negative yesterday does not mean they are negative today.
The State of Florida gives owners of EIA positive horses three choices: euthanasia, slaughter or self-quarantine. Most people don't have the property to self-quarantine so, their only option to keep their horse alive is to send them to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. We are lucky, there are several states that test and destroy, no other options or choices for owners. Then, there are the states that say the EIA horses can be shipped to any research facility in the US. However, the State of Florida does not want to become the dumping ground for all EIA horses. So, they will not allow any EIA horses from other states to be brought into the state. We talk to so many people out of state, every year, that are completely devastated about their horses testing positive and how hard they are trying to fight their state to save them.
You have to realize, not every horse in every state is tested every year. So, if you go to shows, rodeos, auctions, races and any other gathering of horses, everyone is supposed to have a current Coggins Test on their person for their horse. The problem? Depending on where you go, most times there is no one there to check that the Coggins Tests are current, or if the test is a match for the horse standing in front of them. While shows may check your paperwork, they are not checking the paperwork of the people that are not participating but just riding around on the grounds. Do you know that Florida is the ONLY state that has a checkpoint coming in and out of the state to check Coggins Tests?
When you ride down the side of the road, over to the park or up to the lake, there is no one there to police that everyone has a current test on their person. The point is, your horse may be tested but, was the horse you rode past in that pasture tested? While you may obey the law that does not mean everyone around you does. Does the barn you are at ask for a copy of a new test from you yearly? Does the barn owner test their own horses?
By now you have had to realize the Coggins Test is a BIG money maker for Vets, the various states and the USDA. Some horses are tested two or more times a year while in Florida. Think of all the Breeding Barns, Show Grounds, Rodeos, Trail Rides and Race Tracks. We are asking that you sign this petition to ask the USDA and the State of Florida to take $ 1.oo from each Coggins Test that is done in Florida to go toward research for a vaccine for EIA and $ 1.00 to go to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Horse Rescue for the EIA horses that are maintained for researchers to take their most needed blood samples. We have never asked or received one dollar from the state or the various researchers but, I think it's time we all stand up for what’s right. It seems like the test is where most of the energy is focused not on creating the vaccine. So, let’s tell them we want a vaccine instead of this ridiculous testing repeatedly that is only good for one moment of one day. Let’s make all the horses’ safe all the time.
So tell me, why, as horse owners are we still paying millions of dollars every year to find out if our horses tested positive or negative on the day you had them tested? Wouldn't it make more sense and be less expensive for owners to pay for a vaccine one time and know their horse was safe instead of having a yearly Coggins Test done and taking a chance? You already carry the Coggins Test, what’s the difference if you have to carry a vaccine record instead? Once you've given the vaccine to your horse, you would never have to worry about your horse being near an EIA horse again. The EIA positive horses would then pose no danger to any vaccinated horses.
There have been literally thousands of good horses destroyed over the last 30 years. Who knows the real count, it could be over a million. I am asking you to stand up with us and demand change. Demand some of the money be used to solve the problem instead of continuously throwing money away every year on repeated testing. I propose that $ 1.00 from the vet drawing the test and a $1.00 from the state lab processing the test go toward the efforts. I am NOT proposing horse owners pay any additional fees. They have paid enough already.
Our mission and vision is to provide a permanent safe haven for all horses that are asymptomatic carriers of Equine Infectious Anemia within the state of Florida as well as for any horse in immediate need of assistance in Broward County thus preventing their needless destruction. Our primary financial goal is to acquire sustainable funding to provide these noble animals with the dignity of allowing them to live out their lives with their needs met while providing the proper care and loving interaction they deserve. It is our moral position that we must continue to advocate for and participate in ongoing research to find a cure, a vaccine or aide in creating more accurate testing. It is also our intention to factually educate the public regarding EIA thus allowing us to dispel the myths and misconceptions that lead owners to think their only legal alternative is to euthanize their horse.
As our ethical obligation to the surrounding communities, we will continue to give back to them in a worthwhile and enriching way by maintaining and enhancing our many programs that benefit local families and organizations thereby positively impacting the entire community.