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Friday, May 17, 2024

Responsibility of show venues reporting AHS cases

Following enquiries regarding whether or not a show holding body may withhold the fact that a horse tested positive for AHS on the property:

1. According to the Animal Diseases Act (35 of 1984 ) Section 11:

(1) Any owner or manager of land on which there are animals, and any owner in respect of animals, shall, whether or not such owner or manager has obtained advice regarding the health, or any certificate of fitness or health of the animals in terms of section 13 (1) (c), from the director -

(a) take, with due observance of the provisions of this Act, all reasonable steps to prevent the infection of the animals with any animal disease, or parasite and the spreading thereof from the relevant land or animals, or which are necessary for the eradication of animal diseases and parasites on the land or in respect of the animals; and

(b) whenever such animals -

(i) have become or can reasonably be suspected of having become infected with any animal disease or parasite, apply in respect of such animals the prescribed treatment or any other treatment which may be deemed suitable and customary in the particular circumstances; and

(ii) have become or can reasonably be suspected of having become infected with any controlled animal disease, immediately report such incidence in the prescribed manner to the director.

And According to Regulation 12 of the same Act:

(1) The reporting of the incidence or suspected incidence of a controlled animal disease by a responsible person in terms of section 11(1)(b)(ii) of the Act shall forthwith be done verbally to the responsible State Veterinarian or responsible technical officer, and shall be confirmed in writing as soon as possible thereafter.

[Subreg. (1) amended by R.2358 of 10 December 1993]

(2) A report referred to in subregulation (1) shall-

(a) contain the name, postal address, residential address and telephone number of the responsible person making such report;

(b) furnish a description of the infected or suspected of being infected controlled animal or thing, including any identification, brand or ear mark that occurs thereon;

(c) specify the symptoms shown by the controlled animal or thing concerned; and

(d) contain a description of the place where the controlled animal or thing concerned and, if applicable, any contact animal and any progeny or product of such animal are isolated as contemplated in regulation 13.

(3) A responsible person shall also forthwith bring the incidence or suspected incidence of a controlled animal disease referred to in subregulation (1) to the notice of-

(a) each owner or manager of adjoining land and each owner of susceptible animals on the same or adjoining land; and

(b) each prospective buyer of his susceptible animals as well as a person who has bought susceptible animals from him during the immediately preceding 30 days.

So taking the above into account, and having discussed the matter with the relevant people at DAFF, it would in fact not be legal to withhold information about the occurrence of AHS on a property from owners whose horses could be directly affected by an AHS positive case on that property.

In order to take legal action, there would be two options:

1. The affected owner of a horse could report the case to the Director of Animal Health, who could then lay a criminal charge against the alleged offender for contravention of the Animal Diseases Act.

2. The affected owner could lay a civil claim against the responsible show holding body. The owner would need to prove damages and show that the damages were as a result of the horse attending a show on the property where the responsible show holding body failed to notify owners about a case of AHS on the property. Damages could include a claim resulting from movement restrictions.

The short answer is “yes”, it appears that show holding bodies could be held liable if they failed to report the occurrence of SUSPECT AND CONFIRMED cases of a disease on the property to competitors. Riders should be encouraged to put pressure on their competitive bodies to make it a requirement that to be registered as a show holding body, mandatory disease reporting responsibilities must be undertaken.