VOLUME 9 - 2016-2017 - ISSUE 3

9 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 535 (2017).


Note Written by: Zachary M. Sosnovich

This note examines the legal hurdles the Jockey Club faces in implementing a microchip program originally designed to alleviate issues of identification that are created by relying on general markings or tattoos. But with the long-term goal to implement a multi-state medical database that would allow veterinarians to update treatment information and keep horses exposed to dangerous medication out of the slaughter pipeline.

Unfortunately, this new multi-state database is destined to run into a legal hurdle. There are a variety of state regulations that require veterinarians to abide by confidentiality requirements. These would prevent veterinarians from sharing their treatment of equine animals with other organizations, without the written permission of the owner. This Note will argue that the definition of confidentiality, created by the American Veterinarian Medical Association (“AVMA”), grants the Jockey Club of America proper legal standing through a “public health” exception. In addition, the AVMA should mandate that all state confidentiality regulations be amended to allow for this exception. This Note will explore the effect the veterinarian confidentiality requirement will have on the plans for an online multi-state medical database and how the issue can be alleviated.

Section II of this Note will analyze the microchip system implemented by the European Union (“EU”). It will explore the negatives of the original system, which was implemented in 2009, and will explore how the adoption of an online system solves those issues. Section III of this Note will examine the current American system for monitoring equine medical treatment, as well as explain the failures of this system. Additionally, it will look at the new microchip database system and the ways in which these issues would be alleviated. Furthermore, it will explain the issue of creating the new multi-state database and how the Jockey Club can look to a legal remedy to solve this issue. Section IV will explore the legal standing that the Jockey Club can pursue in its efforts to institute the multi-state database. The section will explore the different state regulations and the discrepancies in their confidentiality requirements. Furthermore, this section will explore the ways in which the AVMA recommends states should define confidentiality. Section V will explore case law that explains how “public health” has been defined in the court system. This section will also explain the ways in which the slaughter of horses treated with PBZ satisfies this exception. Finally, Section VI will conclude with a discussion on the need for the American Veterinary Medical Society to mandate the “public health” exception in all state statutes. This will allow the implementation of the multi-state medical database that the Jockey Club desires.