For Immediate Release:
Dec. 3, 2007
Elizabeth E. Hirst
The Tampa Tribune’s editorial board seeks accountability in horse trading industry
TAMPA, Fla. – Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Tampa residents were informed of new legislation they should be thankful for. The Saturday editorial titled, “Reining in Unscrupulous Horse Sales,” notified readers of a statute signed into law last spring that served to “protect the integrity of the state’s horse industry… [and] prevent unfair or deceptive trade practices.”
The editorial acknowledged that although the “unfair or deceptive trade practices” are not overly prevalent, the need for such legislation is obvious. “Florida’s equine industry is much too important to the economy, people’s livelihoods and recreation not to take steps to nip deceptive sales practices in the bud.”
The editorial went on to state the economic importance of the industry, “Horse sales, shows and exhibits pump more the $2 billion into the state’s economy annually.”
The legislation signed into law allows the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) to create rules to protect the consumer and deter fraud. In doing so, the DOACS is able to speak with horse owners, breeders, and the general public to fashion rules they would like built.
Suggested rules, the editorial states, include “requiring owners to disclose ‘pertinent’ medical conditions, prohibiting the alteration of a horse’s physical appearance before a sale and mandating that sellers reveal if a horse has be tranquilized…People should not be duped, period.”
Rules to discourage fraud are as important as rules that provide retribution if a consumer is deceived. According to the Tampa Tribune, “The rules should allow such buyers to rescind the sale and get their money back, and stiff penalties should be imposed on anyone who engages in fraud and deception.”
Other areas of sales fraud addressed include a written bill of sale- clearly stating the horse’s owner and previous medical records and dual agency – an agent representing a buyer and seller that does not disclose their representation to both parties.
In the closing paragraph, the editorial clearly supports the new legislation and the work being done by the (DOACS) to create rules that provide complete consumer protection. “Implementing tough, clear-cut rules will send a loud message that unscrupulous horse trading will not be tolerated in Florida.”
Comments from Earle Mack
“I applaud those states and sale companies which have taken the first step with announced plans to ban steroids in 2008. Steroid use to enhance performance and appearance has hurt our Thoroughbred business, both in racing and at the sales.
If we agree inappropriate, performance-enhancing substances and methods are wrong in racing and sales, then we must go forward with laws and regulations to assure compliance. Especially, we should not wait to see if self-regulation will marginally improve deceptive practices in horse sales by putting enforcement on the back of the customer, the buyer.
Florida is leading the way with a new 2007 horse sales law to address deceptive practices and bring transparency to horse sales. I applaud Ocala Breeders’ Sales (OBS) for this week announcing policy changes to come into compliance with several of the Florida Proposed New Rules for Horse Sales.
Let us make the recently enacted Florida statute and proposed regulations for horse sales a template for our industry and use it to grow, develop and improve integrity in our business.”