Nebraska bill would keep animals, humans healthy

By Haley Dover, Nebraska News Service
LINCOLN–Organizers of exotic animal sales would have to have an accredited vet on site, under a bill Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte is shepherding through the Legislature.

Legislative Bill 884 would require state veterinarians to be available at auctions and exchange venues to write health certificates for people interested in buying and selling exotic animals including miniature horses and donkeys, certain kinds of sheep and goats, pot-bellied pigs and some reptiles. The bill passed the first round of floor debate March 5.

The main concern is the spread of disease between animals, Hansen said, especially zoonotic diseases that can spread between animals and humans. Disease spread to livestock and pigs sold for meat are of particular concern for the senator. So much so, that he has made LB884 his priority bill.

“We have very good animal health in this state and healthy food,” he said. “If we lose that to one incident, we could lose our exports.”We don’t want that business to suffer.”
Diseases like Newcastle disease found in poultry, brucellosis and TB in livestock and the monkeypox virus are just a few diseases that  Hansen fears could be spread. “Vets could walk the grounds and make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary,” he said.
Hansen said exotic animal sales occur about four times a year in Nebraska. Currently, accredited veterinarians are only required to be present at livestock sales venues where they examine every animal and its paperwork, paying particular attention to out-of-state animals.
While exotic animals will not be examined one-by-one at exchange venues, any animal is subject to the regulations set by the Department of Agriculture, said Rick Leonard, research analyst for the Agriculture Committee. “There are certain state requirements that everyone is required to follow,” he said. “Now we would have a method of monitoring compliance of those requirements and would have a vet available to people that they can utilize to meet those requirements.”
Vets on site will also be able to generally observe animals and see possible signs of disease before they are sold, Leonard said.
The bill will go through two more rounds of debate, but Hansen said he thinks it has a high chance of making it to the governor’s desk at the end of this legislative session.
Contact Haley Dover at nns.hdover@gmail.com
The Nebraska News Service is the state government news wire service provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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