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New state legislation provides funds for LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s Equine Health Studies Program

BATON ROUGE – The Equine Health Studies Program (EHSP) at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) will receive funds from tax revenue generated from slot machines placed in racetracks throughout the state, part of a bill recently passed in the Louisiana Legislature.

“The $750,000 of annually-recurring funding approved will have a dramatic effect on the EHSP by helping to enhance and sustain the research, educational and service mission of our program, and it will move us that much closer to reaching our goal of becoming one of the premier equine biomedical centers in the nation,” said Michael G. Groves, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The bill (House Bill #88) was authored by veterinarian and State Rep. Dr. Michael G. “Mike” Strain, R-Covington, co-authored by several other legislators and endorsed by a broad-based group of constituents in the equine industry and in the veterinary profession.

“Part of the reason the legislation passed is that the funding mechanism makes sense because the funds are generated from the horse racing industry and will be used to enhance and support the equine health needs of the industry,” said Dr. Peter F. Haynes, the school’s executive associate dean. “We were constantly reminded throughout this long process that the road to success is a team effort, and we want to thank everyone who contributed to the team and this effort.”

“Unanimous support and endorsement by constituents of the equine industry and the veterinary profession in Louisiana was necessary and much appreciated,” said Dr. Rustin M. Moore, a professor of veterinary surgery at the LSU SVM and director of the EHSP.

The horse industry is an important economic asset of the state, with a total direct impact of over $1 billion annually. With the installation of slot machines at racetracks, the purses are increasing substantially, which has led to an improved and expanded breeding component of the equine industry in the state. Taken together, the number and quality of horses in the state are increasing.

“Given the increase of horses in the state, the industry deserves an equally enhanced quality of veterinary medical services available at the only comprehensive referral center in the state or surrounding region,” said Haynes.

“The number of critically ill and injured horses referred to the LSU SVM continues to increase dramatically, and funds provided through this legislation and private funding will help to improve and maintain our equine clinical facilities and to enhance laboratories and other space required for equine scientific investigation. This annually recurrent funding is crucial for the EHSP to be able to meet the current and future needs of the state’s equine industry,” explained Moore.

Establishment of this substantial annual funding will enable the EHSP faculty to conduct leading-edge equine veterinary biomedical research, to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art advanced veterinary care for critically ill and injured horses, and to deliver contemporary equine veterinary medical instruction to veterinary students and the most up-to-date continuing education programs to private equine veterinary practitioners and horsemen. Recruitment and retention of key faculty scientists, advanced studies students and technical staff, along with maintenance and renovation of existing facilities, acquisition and maintenance of state-of-the-art research equipment and maintenance of an appropriately-sized herd of research horses are necessary to achieve and maintain scientific productivity in equine biosciences.

“Although insufficient funding has been the limiting factor to date in achieving our mission of becoming one of the elite equine biomedical centers in the country, our faculty, staff and students have made huge strides in gaining national and international recognition for their contributions to the equine veterinary scientific literature. Receipt of a dependable and annually recurring source of funds will provide the infrastructure to the existing and incoming equine basic and clinical scientists to advance the program toward our goals,” said Groves.

Additionally, the funding will provide a consistent source of funding that can be used to expand the depth and scope of equine veterinary biomedical research in order to discover improved diagnostic tests and to develop more effective, state-of-the-art treatments for ill and injured horses. The changes will ultimately help to improve the health, well-being and performance of horses. These funds will be used as seed monies for: submission of equine biomedical research grants to federal and private funding agencies; funding of scientific studies involving clinically and regionally important equine diseases; acquisition and maintenance of state-of-the-art research and clinical equipment; enhancement of comprehensive, state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities available for ill and injured horses; and delivery of contemporary education and instruction to veterinary students and veterinarians in advanced studies programs (interns, residents and graduate students), and continuing education for private veterinary practitioners and people involved in the equine industry such as owners, breeders and trainers.

“Again, the EHSP thanks everyone involved in this success, and we look forward to continuing to work with our constituents in order to serve the equine industry in a way that it deserves and in a manner that we along, with the University and the State, can be proud. We believe the future of the EHSP and the equine industry in Louisiana and the surrounding region is bright,” said Moore.


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