Infected does not mean Infectious

About us 

-We have never had a positive testing horse.

-We have only ever tested because of Canadian/USA border crossing requirements.

The 3 horses currently residing on our property have all been across the border at one time or another, however, we do not support the test and slaughter legislation in place nor do we support the criteria used in adopting this policy.

After an out break of Coggins testing in the late 1980s and an aggressive pro test and kill push in the mid nineties by the Saskatchewan Horse Federation under the guidance of the Executive Director Mae Smith, we decided to go on a fact finding mission.

We started with the local veterinarian, then worked our way up the chain of command with the Regional veterinarian, the Provincial veterinarian, the Western Disease control Specialist, and the head of all these (CFIA) Dr. Ron Rodgers, in Ottawa who referred us to the Virology Specialist, Dr. Carole Simard, in one of the Atlantic Provinces.

NOT ONE of these people had read any of the research documents at that time.

It really makes you wonder what basis was used to justify implementation of the current policy.

During one of our conversations, the head of the Animal Health Branch, CFIA, in Ottawa told me we had no business going outside the country to get information, even though his personal knowledge was very limited and he could not provide a reliable resource in Canada! He also told us at that time that we do not have Potomac Fever in Canada which only confirmed his lack of knowledge of horse related illnesses. The CFIA people in Ottawa pointed out they had received a letter from Mae Smith (the Saskatchewan Horse Federation Executive Director at that time, now retired), stating that she represented the owners of 6000 horses in Saskatchewan and urging them to implement stiffer regulations with more government involvement. Although our family all held SHF memberships at that time, Ms Smith did not represent our, or many other horse owners points of view.

We repeatedly asked Mae Smith for copies of the documents which had her convinced to support the Coggins test and destroy policy. She never provided any. CFIA received the same requests and to this date have not responded either. Mae Smith also made public statements in an attempt to discredit our efforts to share our information with other interested horse owners.

During this time period SHF published information pamphlets full of statements absolutely contradicting what the US scientists had shown in their years of detailed and documented research. (Although many horse owners are familiar with the disease, research on this subject has been very limited in Canada.)

We would like to state, “We believe in the Coggins test, or better yet the ELISA test to determine infected animals. We believe they could be valuable herd health management tools.”

WE DO NOT believe the Coggins test or ELISA test should be used as a determining factor in a test and slaughter program as has been the case in North America over the past forty years.