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Celebration Continues Push for Reliable Inspections

The Celebration's attorney, Joseph Wilson, sent a final letter to Principal Deputy General Counsel, Lee Fink, concerning the inconsistencies in inspection at the recently completed 78th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  During inspections conducted by a Veterinarian Medical Officer at the Celebration, 75 entries asked for a second VMO to confirm the findings of the first VMO.  In those 75 instances, 17 times the second VMO found the horse in compliance with the HPA, thus disagreeing with the first VMO, and the entry was allowed to show.  The 22% error rate in the initial findings from the VMO validates the position of the Celebration that the current inspection protocol needs to be abandoned in favor of a new, more reliable, science-based and objective protocol.

"The USDA's position does not refute the Association's point that the high rate of inconsistencies demonstrates that the current examination process is unscientific and unlawful because it results in a high rate of inconsistencies, among other reasons," stated Wilson's letter.

In addition to the 22% error rate, a staggering 52% of the time the two VMOs found differing results with regards to compliance from their examination.  An additional factor highlighting the inconsistencies in inspection is the second VMO was always aware that the first VMO found the horse in violations of the HPA.  "These already high rates do not even take into account the inherent bias in the VMO examination process in favor of arriving at a belief of non-compliance.  Only horses that the first VMO examiner believed to be non-compliant were re-examined at the Celebration," stated Wilson.

As part of the proposed rulemaking, the USDA cites that APHIS detected 3,355 instances of noncompliance from FY2010-FY2015.  When applying the 22% error rate found at the Celebration, APHIS would have wrongly disqualified approximately 761 horses during that timeframe.

To view the letter from Kelley Drye & Warren to the Principal Deputy General Counsel click here.

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