In response to reports of horses being imported and sold in New Jersey without the medical testing required to enter the state, and with an eye toward protecting well-intentioned horse buyers from unwittingly helping to spread equine infectious diseases, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture today announced an initiative to ensure that horse owners and dealers are aware of, and follow, the longstanding regulations adopted to protect the health of all horses in the state.
Those regulations require a negative Coggins test, the official test for equine infectious anemia, and a veterinary-signed health certificate, both requirements that help ensure equine health. The regulations protect New Jersey horses from illnesses that can be caused by exposure to untested horses entering the state. The Department has followed with concern the entry of numerous horses into the state as owners who are unable to keep their animals seek other options for these animals. Some options allow, and therefore can encourage, transport without the required testing, but those do not include selling the horse to a new owner for the horse to reside in New Jersey.
“Any attempt to circumvent the proper health tests for horse importation puts every equine in our state in jeopardy,” said Dr. Nancy Halpern, the State Veterinarian and Director of the Division of Animal Health. “These requirements are not expensive to meet, and we cannot tolerate putting animals at risk just for the sake of marginally increasing the profits of horse dealers.”
All horses entering New Jersey must have a negative Coggins test and, if imported from another state, a valid interstate health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian from the state of origin, prior to entry to New Jersey. The requirement for both a negative Coggins test result and a health certificate provides the minimum requirements for the importation of healthy horses to minimize the risk of subsequent disease transmission.
Horse dealers who fail to comply with these regulations may face revocation of their livestock dealer’s license and/or penalties of $200 for the first offense and $500 for the second and each subsequent offense.
Horse owners or prospective horse owners who have questions about these regulations can call the Division of Animal Health at 609-292-3965.