Thursday, March 18, 2010

The BLM Passes the Buck on the Vet Issue

Straight from the Horse's Heart

written by Steven Long - Editor and Publisher of “Horseback Magazine

No Straight Answer on the Unlicensed Vet tending to Wild Horses

Wild Horse "processing" at Pryor Mt. Round-up - Photo by Terry Fitch
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management has punted on whether it employed a veterinarian on its Calico roundup who is not licensed in the State of Nevada. Responding to a query by Horseback Magazine regarding the credentials of Dr. Albert Kane, the BLM referred questions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal, and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Thus far, 113 horses and miscarried foals have died after a helicopter driven stampede in Northern Nevada. The bureau’s fiercest critic in Congress, Sen. Mary Landrieu told Horseback late Tuesday that she will sit on her hands regarding the deaths.
“Sen. Landrieu will not call for an immediate hearing, but the Senator continues to be engaged on the matter and is working to find a permanent humane solution,” Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders said.
Late last year Landrieu called for BLM to clean up its act within a year or risk losing management responsibilities over wild horses and burros on its 260 million mostly vacant acres of federal land in the West.
The BLM responded in detail Tuesday to Horseback’s story on Kane’s lack of credentials, reveling that about another vet working the Fallon Nevada holding facility is in good standing with the state, but only mentioning Kane in a brief punt to another government spokesperson in another federal agency. The BLM cited a gap in the Nevada’s veterinary practices act which would permit an unlicensed vet to work.
Other vets and physicians find the gap in credentials troubling.
“Unlicensed vets cannot perform veterinary duties in NY (no exams no nothing and you do get fined here),” said a vet who has tangled with Kane in the past but declined to be identified.
A physician active in the movement to stop the BLM wild horse roundups was even more harsh in her criticism.
“If Kane is still there, it is possible he is helping with the “disposition” of the horses.  This is really criminal” the doctor said. “The BLM needs to hire vets who are expert at dealing with metabolic syndrome.  I bet they are colicky.  This is a travesty of the first order.  These people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a helicopter contract but then they skimp on proper care?  It is a very chilling thought that the vet used by the BLM may not have sufficient knowledge on metabolic syndrome and doesn’t know how to provide proper care to these horses.  I am very concerned about this possibility even if he is licensed elsewhere.  The BLM should have hired a vet who has extensive knowledge on metabolic syndrome so that the horses do not develop this condition.”
Medical professionals have been critical of the BLM practice of feeding wild horses rich hay immediately after their capture in a dramatic departure from their lifelong diet of sparse desert grasses.
The BLM said in exquisite bureaucratese:
“On the issue of veterinary credentials: The BLM ensures that veterinarians working within the Program (sic) have the necessary qualifications (graduate education and legal credentials) to work within each state. Private practitioners who work under contract for the BLM are required to be licensed by the boards of veterinary medicine in the states where they practice. State veterinary medical practice acts generally exclude veterinarians in the employ of the United States Government or respective state governments such that they are not required to be licensed in each state for the performance of their official duties. In Nevada, for example, the practice act for veterinarians does not require a state license (see citation below) for Federal veterinarians performing official
NRS 638.015 Applicability. Nothing in this chapter applies:
1. To the gratuitous castrating, dehorning or vaccinating of
domesticated animals nor to the gratuitous treatment of diseased animals by friends or neighbors of the owner thereof, except that all vaccinations for zoonotic diseases must be administered by a licensed veterinarian or a
person under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
2. To debar any veterinarian in the employ of the United States
Government or the State of Nevada from performing official duties necessary for the conduct of the business of the United States Government or the
State of Nevada, or a political subdivision thereof, upon which he is assigned.
Dr. Rich Sanford is the attending veterinarian providing care for the Calico horses at the Indian Lakes Facility. Dr. Sanford’s license is NV #565. He has 25 years of experience working with wild horses.
APHIS has requested that all questions about Dr. Kane be referred to Lyndsay Cole, APHIS Public Affairs. Her email address is:
JoLynn Worley, 775-861-6515
Office of Communications
BLM Nevada State Office
Horseback has requested the USDA provide the biographical information on the veterinarian that both Kane and the BLM have refused to reveal.

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