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USDA Veterinarians demand extra security



Horse veterinarians and federal inspectors are not horsing around when it comes to security at horse shows. They are seeking protection from the private security industry.

You probably woudn’t think so, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s vets who visit horse races and shows to make sure animals are receiving the proper care are sometimes the target of threats.

“There is a lot of money involved with horses, and as a result of that, in prior years there have been situations where inspectors have been threatened physically and even received death threats,” said Grant Stewart, spokesman for USProtect, Silver Spring, Md., which was hired to provide security details for vets. “It has brought up the need for executive protection,” Grant said. He was quoted in the May 31 issue of the Corporate Security newsletter published by Strafford Publications Inc.

USProtect now has a contract to protect inspectors form the USDA’a animal and plant inspection services program at 30 horse races and shows across the country.

“Our guards are required to stay with them at all times,” Stewart said.

USDA vets conduct compliance inspections to ensure the animals are being cared for properly and aren’t being drugged or otherwise abused before big races and shows. The medical personnel “are there for the animal’s protection and on the animal’s behalf,” Stewart said.

“Horses in general are big-ticket items, so obviously (owners) like to see their investment moving forward.”

Some horse owners may view these vets as a threat because they could bring mistreatment allegations and disqualify a horse from major competition.

USProtect’s non-uniformed, armed guards accompany the vets and make sure they encounter no harassment or interference.

“They set up protection, secure areas for them, and then they act as executive protection on location,” Stewart said. “And they travel to each and every location with the USDA team.

USProtect will accompany USDA vets on inspections in 23 states in 2004.

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