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Proposed South Carolina Bill Would Help Track Horse Sales

The bill would require auctions and sales to keep records of transaction for at least five years, and network with national and local rescues to ensure that horses have not been reported missing or stolen.

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Stolen Horse International, also known as NetPosse, is an internet-based network of organizations, owners and volunteers that work to educate the horse industry about missing and stolen horses plus disaster scenarios, plus work to bring stolen and missing horses home.

NetPosse reports manager Pam Miller reached out to South Carolina state legislature last year, suggesting a bill that would help horse owners locate lost, missing or stolen horses passing through auctions or sales. A bill was pre-filed in December by Senator Paul Campbell to take steps to that end.

The language of the bill reads as follows:

A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 47-11-85 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF ANIMALS SOLD IN THE PUBLIC LIVESTOCK MARKET OR AN EQUINE SALES FACILITY, TO PROVIDE THAT, PRIOR TO THE SALE OF A HORSE, A PERSON OPERATING AN EQUINE SALES FACILITY MUST DETERMINE WHETHER THE HORSE BEARS IDENTIFICATION, COORDINATE WITH LOCAL RESCUES TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC ONLINE, PROVIDE A COGGINS CERTIFICATE AND BILL OF SALE AND MAKE SUCH INFORMATION AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST, CHECK WITH NATIONAL AND LOCAL HORSE RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE HORSE WAS REPORTED AS MISSING, LOST, OR STOLEN, AND MAINTAIN RECORDS FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS; AND TO PROVIDE FOR PENALTIES.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Section 47-11-85 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

“Section 47-11-85. (A) Animals sold in a public livestock market or equine sales facility must bear identification including, but not limited to, ear tags, ear notches accompanied by purebred papers, back tags, mane and tail tags, tattoos, brands, or other permanent means authorized by state or federal regulations.
(B) Prior to the sale of a horse, a person operating an equine sales facility must:
(1) determine whether the horse bears the identification required in subsection (A);
(2) coordinate with local rescues to provide information to the public online, including photographs of the horse and any relevant identification information pursuant to subsection (A);
(3) provide a Coggins certificate and bill of sale and make such information available upon request;
(4) check with national and local horse rescue organizations to determine whether the horse was reported as missing, lost, or stolen; and
(5) maintain records for at least five years, with records to include the date and time of any online posting and the date and time that the horse was sold.
(C) A person who violates the provisions of this section if:
(1) the value of the horse is ten thousand dollars or more is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than ten years, fined not more than twenty five hundred dollars, or both;
(2) the value of the horse is more than two thousand dollars but less than ten thousand dollars is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years, fined not more than five hundred dollars, or both; or
(3) the value of the horse is two thousand dollars or less is guilty of a misdemeanor triable in magistrates’ court or municipal court, notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 22-3-540, 22-3-545, 22-3-550, and 14-25-65. Upon conviction, the person must be fined not more than one thousand dollars, imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.”

SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

This bill would take steps to ensure that auctions and horse sales identify horses prior to sale, and also check with national and local rescue organizations to determine if a horse has been reported as missing, lost or stolen. All bills of sale would be retained for at least five years, helping to provide a paper trail for missing or stolen horses.

While this bill certainly provides a big step forward in terms of record keeping and identification attempts for potentially stolen or missing horses in the state of South Carolina, it won’t be a catch-all to ensure that no horse falls through the cracks. However, the bill was suggested based on the most common problems noted by NetPosse in its efforts to track down missing horses: the trail often goes cold at an auction or sale.

In other facets of the industry, including the Jockey Club and the USEF, microchipping is becoming a mandatory requirement. Microchipping is a relatively inexpensive and permanent means of identifying a horse that is already common practice overseas. All Thoroughbreds registered with the Jockey Club from 2018 onward will carry a microchip.

Ideally, other breed and show organizations will begin to also enforce microchipping, creating a future where horses can be quickly and easily identified. Working in concert with bills like this one, introduced in South Carolina, horses will become easier to track and easier to reunite with their owners should they become lost or stolen.

For more information, please visit Stolen Horse International.

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