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AHPA Files Suit to Stop Operating Plan 2001-2003



Posted January 10, 2001
The American Horse Protection Association (AHPA) filed suit on January 8, 2001, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the USDA from implementing the 2001-2003 operating plan. The basis of the suit is the AHPA's belief that the Horse Protection Act does not permit the USDA to delegate its authority for enforcement of the act to HIOs or to any "private parties."

Dr. Ron DeHaven, deputy administrator for animal care at the USDA, said that APHA filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, which was heard today, Jan10. The district court judge denied the request but the lawsuit will proceed.

According to the AHPA, the suit charges that the Horse Protection Act does not give “private parties,” (for example, HIOs) the authority to enforce the act or to impose penalties on people alleged to have violated the act. AHPA believes that such authority belongs only to the Secretary of Agriculture or the Attorney General in the case of criminal prosecututions. AHPA further states that nothing in the HPA authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to delegate his enforcement authority to HIOs.

AHPA is also concerned about several points in the proposed operating plan, particularly since the plan would be in effect for three years. Two areas of concern are “private sanctions” imposed by HIOs and the conflict resolution process. AHPA states that the proposed operating plan for 2001-2003 “in part, substitutes private sanctions based on HIO disciplinary rules for the civil penalties (fines and suspensions) normally imposed by APHIS pursuant to the Act.” In other words, in part, the plan allows the HIO to determine what punishment it will dispense instead of imposing the fines and suspensions based on the HPA that are normally imposed by the USDA. The plan also provides for ‘conflict resolution’ that AHPA believes essentially eliminates the USDA’s ability to punish violators if a DQP disagrees with a VMOs findings that a horse is sore.

WHR is attempting to contact NHSC attorney Niels Holch, executive director of the AHPA Robin Lohnes, and Dr. DeHaven.

Further information will be posted on this site as it is available.

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