WASHINGTON, DC ““ FOSH President Teresa Bippen, one of the invited witnesses to testify before the House Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee, writes APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea and asks why Shea has not filed Complaint to decertify Heart of America HIO for refusing to accept the mandated minimum penalties.
Heart of America HIO has not been in compliance since July 2012. APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea along with Deputy Administrator Chester Gipson, DVM, have done absolutely nothing to punish Heart of America for its defying the Federal Law.
DR. CHESTER GIPSON, DVM – DAVID L. HOWARD’S PARTNER
Bippen asks Shea why taxpayers money is being used in 2014 to train DQPs for non-compliant Heart of America HIO.
Dear Mr. Shea:
FOSH thanks you for publicizing the USDA decertification complaint against SHOW. It is our opinion that a transparent HIO enforcement system will work best to end soring and publicizing the USDA’s action against SHOW demonstrates APHIS support of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) which we appreciate.
KEVIN SHEA ““ APHIS ADMINISTRATOR
Unfortunately, one grave concern of FOSH is that the USDA has not issued a complaint of decertification against Heart of America (HOA). This is puzzling:
· HOA has not adopted the mandated penalties.
· HOA has been noncompliant since July 2012.
· HOA has been noncompliant just as long as SHOW.
· HOA’s inspections and enforcements are some of the worst in the industry and comparable to SHOW
Would you please help FOSH and its hundreds of members understand why the USDA has not filed a complaint of decertification against HOA? Why is a noncompliant HIO permitted to inspect horses? If the USDA does not quickly file a complaint against HOA, this will be HOA’s third show season of inspecting horses without imposing mandatory penalties on HPA violators. How can HOA’s inspections be considered valid when it is noncompliant in the enforcement area? Why is the USDA continuing to certify that HOA is capable of performing HIO duties?
How are compliant HIOs supposed to explain to show managers the importance of only hiring compliant HIOs when noncompliant HIOs like HOA are still in existence? This was a difficult message to communicate in 2012 and 2013 and compliant HIOs now have to do this again? This situation created confusion in the Walking Horse show world last year. We ask that 2014 be a year of certainty for compliant HIOs, exhibitors, show managers, charities and the USDA with only compliant HIOs able to inspect.. Our final question: why is taxpayer money being spent to train HOA DQPs for 2014?
A noncompliant HIO hanging around the industry seriously hinders USDA enforcement efforts. Not only that, it sends a mixed signal to the industry on how serious APHIS is about upholding the HPA. One of the strongest steps that APHIS can take to establish support of the TWH industry is to decertify HIOs that do not comply with the law. Why? Noncompliant HIOs have caused incomparable damage to the image and reputation of the Tennessee Walking Horse by allowing sored big lick horses in the ring. Waiting a few or many months to file a decertification complaint against HOA does not help””not the horse, not compliant HIOs, not show managers and most certainly, not the industry which needs clear direction from the USDA to avoid ambiguity this show season. Maybe consider this as well: noncompliant HIOs consume an extraordinarily disproportionate amount of APHIS resources.
In closing, FOSH respectfully requests that APHIS enforce the HPA by filing a complaint to decertify noncompliant HOA. Two show seasons of noncompliance and uncertainty are enough, aren’t they?
Have APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea and Deputy Administrator Chester Gipson, DVM forgotten that they work for the American taxpayers?