Rally to protest govt EI handling - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rally to protest govt EI handling

By Gabrielle Dunlevy and Jessica Marszalek 02/10/2007 07:52:26 PM Comments (0)

A horse breeder whose prize mare died from Equine Influenza (EI) has organised a public rally west of Brisbane as criticism mounts over Queensland's Department of Primary Industries' (DPI) handling of the crisis.

Penny Toft, a breeder and exporter of Arab performance horses from Marburg, west of Brisbane, on Monday night had the mare euthanased due to complications resulting from equine influenza (EI).

The mare, valued at between $50,000 and $75,000, was just a week away from delivering a foal, which also died.

Ms Toft criticised the DPI's handling of the outbreak, saying it hadn't warned horse owners how severe the virus could be and hadn't done enough to help.

Ms Toft announced she had organised a rally at Ipswich on Saturday for horse owners to band together as a united force.

A media release from Ms Toft and husband Peter said horse owners needed better communication from the government and needed to discuss amongst themselves how the disaster was best managed.

Earlier she said the DPI had not been very helpful.

"We reported our property to be infected now 14 days ago, and we still, to this day, we haven't had a DPI inspector onto our property to look at the severity of the problem," she told ABC radio.

The state opposition has also been critical, saying the government had underfunded the DPI for years.

But a DPI spokesman told AAP that biosecurity was everyone's responsibility, including horse owners and their vets.

He said a DPI inspector would be unable to visit other properties for 24 hours after being on an infected site.

"If a horse owner reports a sick animal in an area where there is widespread EI infection, (the DPI) is unlikely to send a vet to confirm infection when in all likelihood the property is infected," the spokesman said.

"This is because the vet would then have to decontaminate and cannot attend any other horse for a period of 24 hours.

"The horse flu response is a partnership between the state government and the community - even with an army of dedicated staff (the DPI) cannot do it alone."

Meanwhile, most of the owners of 255 horses stranded at an equestrian centre south-west of Brisbane for the past five weeks were able to leave on Tuesday, after receiving the all-clear on Monday.

The Morgan Park equestrian centre at Warwick went into lockdown on August 25 after horses there became the first in Queensland to contract EI.

But the owners of around 38 horses from NSW learned they weren't allowed back into the state.

They are subject to conditions applied by the NSW chief vet, Bruce Christie, who said the horses would not be allowed for another fortnight to return to the state's green and amber zones.

Other horses must be taken straight home and owners must adhere to strict conditions.

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