Animals in the Road

Today we hosted a Table Top Exercise (TTX) to discuss and train on the issue of “Animals in the Road”.¬†(We being ADA’s Animal Services Division and the State Vet’s Office) If you’re wondering why this concerns us as much as it does, here’s a good example from near Sunset Point in 2011.

Several folks from many different agencies participated. AZ Dept of Transportation (ADOT), Pinal and Maricopa Counties’ Emergency Managers, AZ Dept of Public Safety (DPS) staff, along with several fire departments’ and county sheriff’s offices’ personnel attended the half-day session. Our thanks to all those who came and contributed to developing a better response capability.

There aren’t a lot of extensive data on how large the issue is. But here are a few conservative figures. Roughly 50 million cattle are transported annually in the US. The swine industry estimates that over 600,000 pigs are moving every day. The number of small horse and livestock trailers on the road everyday is nearly countless.

From a Canadian researcher, between 2000 and 2007 there were over 400 crashes in US and Canada.

  • Weather was a factor in only 1%
  • Driver fatigue and error were the main causes – 85%
  • ~60% occurred between midnight and 9am
  • 80% involved a single vehicle.

I hope you’re getting an understanding of why this is important to us.

The discussion today focused on a few main points – (1) the legal situations that come into play, (2) the practical aspects of dealing with mangled trailers and loose or injured livestock, and (3) the responsibilities and capabilities of the various groups and agencies which respond.

There were 2 scenarios.

The first involved a pick up truck and trailer hauling several horses. It was traveling southbound on the interstate when the driver lost control, struck a guardrail causing the truck and the trailer to overturn. This scenario had an unconscious driver along with loose and injured horses. The crash was blocking 2 lanes of traffic.

The second involved a semi-tractor hauling a load of cattle. The driver lost control resulting in a crash with the tractor trailer sliding on its side and the trailer coming to rest dangling over a ravine.

Both these scenarios were taken from real-life situations.

I’ll leave the details of those scenarios and the discussions and recommendations for a latter post. But within the next few days I hope to post much of the material presented and discussed on the blog for others’ benefit. If you’re interested in learning how to effectively help in situations like these, please contact our office.

And remember to enjoy the ride!

AZ Statutes and the State Vet

Given that we are supposed to be a nation of laws which are to be enacted by those we elect to represent us, I thought it might be educational to enumerate the laws that pertains to the office of State Veterinarian in AZ. Each one contains a link to the actual online version of the statute.

The rules that pertains (ie the sections of AZ Administrative Code) are too lengthy to include but realize the statutes are what authorize any rule to be promulgated.

Lastly I’ll point out 3-1205 and 3-1742. Those authorize the state veterinarian to enter and seize under certain conditions. That’s a lot of power which should be used cautiously, as there’s a very old and true saying about power.

Title 3: Agriculture


Article 1. Department of Agriculture


Article 4. Brucellosis Control


Chapter 15. Animal and Bird Feeds

Article 3. Garbage Fed to Swine

Title 17: Game and Fish



Title 36: Public Health and Safety


Article 9. Enhanced Surveillance Advisories and Public Health Emergencies

118th USAHA Meeting

I just returned from the 118th Annual Meeting of the United States Animal Health Association which was held in conjunction with the 57th Annual Conference of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. Obviously these folks have been around a while. This means some of us are starting to move a little slower than we used to; it also means many have seen disasters and concerns from large to small, be met and successfully overcome. That’s probably a good thought to keep in mind some days.

This post will hopefully provide ya’ll some insight and highlights from the meeting. I hope it helps folks get a sense of what folks in my line of work are trying to do to mitigate the various threats to human and animal health. I also hope to impress upon folks the huge scope of the job. In the meeting program, I count 33 committees which have been formed to address subjects ranging from Animal Emergency Management to Bluetongue & Related Orbiviruses to Foreign & Emerging Diseases to who-knows-what.

Here’s a sampler of some of the presentations:

  • Foot and Mouth Vaccine Surge Capacity for Use in the U.S.A.
  • The Impact of Movements and Animal Density on Continental Scale Cattle Disease Outbreaks in the United States
  • Emerging Diseases of Global Concern with a Focus on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
  • Merging Pathogen Surveillance and Research: Stealth Persistence of an Ema Superfamily Variant of Theirleria equi
  • The Significance of Surra as an Infection in Horses
  • Trends in Food Safety: Public Perception versus Reality

Obviously some of the discussion occur up there in some very rarefied air. Just about every species known comes up in some place or fashion. However much of what is discussed is at the boots-on-the-ground level. Much information is spread informally as we talk with our peers about things tried in other locales along with what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.

A good example of this would be information on how the folks in the state vet’s office in Washington dealt with the SAR (search and rescue) dogs that were deployed following the massive Oso, WA mudslide in March, 2014.

Not only do the people involved in SAR need a lot of support, so do the animals involved such as the dogs who help locate trapped individuals or recover bodies. Those dogs get all sorts of cuts, abrasions, bruises and become covered with contaminated materials of all types. Vets, vet techs and others accompany these response units to support these “first responders”. A small case in point: too many baths aren’t good for their coats or their skin. Sometimes detergents like Dawn are just the thing (like dealing with oil spills). But sometimes an old fashioned oatmeal bath does the trick. Sharing knowledge of what works in the real world is vital.

Just as vital is having folks engaged in the business of producing and protecting the food and fiber production systems in the country. Give it some thought. And give us a call. We can probably find a place for you to help and something you might find interesting as well.

Enjoy the ride!

Talking About Ebola Virus

Note that word “talking” in the title of this post. Not “screaming” nor “panicking“. I’m going to try to convey a few points that we know and some of what is scientifically sound. Before too long I hope to post some specifics about the virus and animals. But for the moment, let’s get started with background.

The library of papers I’ve put together to get up to speed on this subject is getting fairly thick. I’ve collected about 2 dozen. So if you are looking for some reading material, please let me know. I’m also fortunate enough to have become acquainted with someone during this year who has some firsthand experiences in this realm. I’ve already been in touch with him. I intend to pick his brain clean.

First – here is the CDC’s FAQ page on Ebola and pets.

Key Point: At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread it to people or other animals. There is limited evidence that dogs become infected but no evidence they develop disease.

Let me take just a few minutes to elaborate on that last statement.

Our immune systems are constantly evaluating invaders and often making antibodies and other response-capable cells to those invaders. So finding antibodies to anything in particular is NOT proof of disease. It is only proof that the animal’s immune system saw something and responded – which generally is a good thing.

Think of it this way.

If you’re driving in Phoenix traffic at 7am and you see a car ahead of you swerving between lanes you likely respond by slowing down and considering your options. Maybe the guy will crash into something and start a huge mess. But maybe he swerved to avoid a dog running into his lane. The dog then ran back off the road and that driver went on without further incident.

You however did respond. It’s much the same with the “infection” scenario above and your (and as best we know all other mammalian) immune system(s). Understand about the dog and not developing disease now?

Next – here is the CDC’s Emerging Disease Page spotlighting Ebola – general info and links to further reading. Much of that linked reading gets very in-depth. But if you want to know for yourself what research exists, there you are.

Sorry to be so short. But I’m currently¬†roaming the range.¬†Remember to try to enjoy the ride!