horses’ Coggins papers are
one of the simplest, and yet can be one of the biggest, problems
of horse keeping. They
tear easily, the writing can smear and become illegible, and they
are readily duplicated or illegally manipulated without much fuss.
In 2004, at least three versions of Coggins papers were being produced in Florida alone. The familiar “yellow” Coggins on carbon paper, the newer E-Coggins with digital photos of your horse, and also E-Coggins without digital photos.
Because proof of negative EIA test (Coggins papers) is mandatory for every horse in Florida (and some other states) traveling off its owner’s property, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Division of Animal Industry, realized it was time to advance the program.
The Handy Little Card
In the past year, the FDACS began developing a durable little card – similar in size and quality to a credit card – to update and eventually replace the antiquated Coggins papers. The new card, officially called the “Negative EIA Test Verification Card,” is a must-have for your 2005 records.
On the front side of the trendy new cards, your horse’s name, breed, sex, color and age are printed alongside three small color photos to verify his identity. Test date, lab accession number and lab name are also listed. The back of the card offers even more data, including the horse owner’s name and contact information, the veterinarian’s contact information, dates and more. The card contains exactly the same information as the paper version of your current Coggins.
“ We feel that having photos on the cards will definitely improve the process of identifying horses,” said Dr. John Irby, Florida Diagnostic Veterinary Manager for District 5. “On the paper documents, very few of the drawings are drawn in as exact as the actual horse’s markings. The photos on the new cards are small, but they are adequate to identify the horse.”
Dr. Irby ran a pilot project with the Coggins cards in 2004, and the response was positive. Cathy and Byron Moore of Riverview, Florida, participated in the experiment.
“ I loved it,” says Cathy, who is an avid trail rider and parade participant. “I was showing mine off to everyone. I think people will be tickled with the new cards because of their convenience. They aren’t bulky and they are easy to carry.”
Cathy keeps hers in her purse, right alongside her driver’s license.
How to Get a Card
Beginning January 1, 2005, the new Coggins card was made available to all horse owners in Florida. Even better, cards will be issued free of charge until June 30, 2005.
To participate, your veterinarian should take three digital, color photos of your horse. She or he will then fill out an application requesting the laminated cards. Next, once your horse’s bloodwork is complete at a testing lab, your veterinarian will send test results and the digital photos to the card production facility, which is overseen by the FDACS.
A fast turnaround time is expected.
“From the time we receive the application, the test results and the horse’s photos, we anticipate a turnaround time of less than a week,” Dr. Irby said.
Within Florida, the cards will be fully accepted, and about a dozen neighboring states have plans for similar programs. If you acquire a Coggins card and your travel plans include long-distance road trips, call ahead to your state of destination to verify that they have heard of and will accept the new Coggins cards. Regulations change from time to time, and a quick phone call could save some confusion later.
“ Another good feature of the cards is that they can also become regular identification cards for your horse,” Dr. Irby added. “If your horse is stolen, you have a positive I.D. for him right there, complete with color photos.”
The FDACS put forth advances in the Equine Event Extension form, as well.
For the past several years, horses hauled across state lines have been required to carry not only proof of negative EIA test (Coggins), but also veterinary-assigned health papers, which certify the horse in good health. Health papers are only valid for 30 days, so people who travel out of state frequently with their horses have been encouraged to apply for an Equine Event Extension form, which is valid for six months.
January 1, 2005, the FDACS began offering this event extension form on a small laminated card, too – very much like the new Coggins card – and also complete with digital photos of your horse. The new card will be called the Equine Interstate Passport Card. It will be valid for six months, just as before.
“ The technology is available for more options,” Dr. Irby said. “We can later include a magnetic strip and other possibilities.”
Convenient & Safer
Horse owners see the new cards as items of convenience. State officials and equine event planners, however, are most interested and pleased with the cards’ reliability features, thanks to the digital photos.
As Dr. William Jeter, Bureau Chief for the FDACS Division of Animal Industry, explained, “The old Coggins paper is confusing, and doesn’t look official. Markings aren’t always drawn in correctly. These new cards should help eliminate some of those problems.”
Last year, Nancy Cloos, an endurance rider from Clermont, Florida, participated in a pilot program for testing the new cards.
“ Normally, I haul out of state every month,” Nancy says. “The new cards are great because you don’t have to have the flimsy papers.”
Merry and Alan Fuson of Cape Coral, Florida, also tested the cards.
“ We love the cards,” Merry says. “People say, ‘Wow! Where did you get those? People are excited about them. We’re kind of new to horses, so we’re always worried that we’ve forgotten something when we take the horses somewhere,” Merry says. “So I made photocopies of the cards and I’ll even leave a set in the horse trailer, just in case we need them.”
The Bottom Line
- New Coggins cards are voluntary.
- Coggins cards are accepted throughout Florida and several Southeastern states. Because this is a new project, always call ahead if you are traveling out of state – just to be sure that your destination is aware of the cards and will accept them without confusion.
- Your veterinarian must submit all paperwork for the cards to be created.
- Submissions must include application, proof of negative EIA test, and three color, digital photographs of your horse.
- Applications and photos are sent to the card production facility, which is overseen by the FDACS, Division of Animal Industry.
- Turnaround time for a new card, with all appropriate paperwork and photos, is a few business days.
- To introduce the program, from January 1, 2005-June 31, 2005, horse owners can apply for the Coggins cards and Equine Passport cards free of charge
- Beginning July 1, 2005, Coggins cards will cost $5 (in addition to what your veterinarian charges you to run the original test). Equine Passport cards will cost $15 per application, and $5 for each addition card for additional horses on the same application.
- Because this format was just released, your veterinarian may be unfamiliar with the new cards.