After the Hamilton Spectator broke the news about charges laid against a pair of Ontario horse racing participants, the Ontario Racing Commission has followed suit and issued a notice to the industry
which also shines more light on the situation.
The ORC release -- which reiterates a call to only use licensed vets -- appears below in its entirety.
Provincial authorities laid criminal charges last week against a Hamilton-area veterinarian for unlawful sale of a controlled substance, as well as a Burlington man for the practice of veterinary medicine without a licence. In light of these charges, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) reminds licensees and participants involved in horse racing in Ontario only to use a veterinarian licensed by the ORC.
Since June 1, 2008, trainers have been required to use an ORC licensed veterinarian for any medication or drug requiring a prescription and any treatment ordinarily requiring the services of a veterinarian for any horse under his/her care and control.
On April 22, 2009, members of the ORC Investigations Unit, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, and the Hamilton Police Service attended a residence located in the City of Hamilton to execute a search warrant under the Criminal Code and the Food and Drugs Act. During the execution of the warrants, authorities seized a quantity of cash and other evidence related to alleged illegal activity in controlled drugs.
Dr. Murray A. Bonshor of Hamilton, ON, ORC Licence No.P42700 (expired) has been charged with the unlawful sale of a controlled substance contrary to the Food and Drug Act. He will appear in Provincial Court in Hamilton on June 16, 2009.
In December 2008, the ORC issued rulings stipulating that that no horse for which Dr. Bonshor provides veterinary services at any time on or after January 1, 2009 up to and including January 1, 2019 shall be eligible to be declared to enter to race at any racetrack in Ontario.
On April 24, 2009, members of the ORC Investigations Unit and OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau attended a residence located in the City of Burlington to execute a search warrant for evidence of offences under the Veterinarian Act of Ontario. Police seized medications, drugs, syringes, and documentary evidence during the execution of the search warrant.
John Guerra of Burlington, ON, is charged with the practice of veterinary medicine without a licence contrary to section 11(1) of the Veterinarians Act of Ontario. Guerra will appear in Provincial Court in Hamilton on June 17, 2009.
The measure to use ORC licensed vets was prompted by ongoing concern in the racing community about the numbers of positive tests and the use of non-therapeutic medications in racehorses. It is believed that properly ORC licensed veterinarians are much more likely to utilize or prescribe medications which are of benefit only to the health and welfare of the racehorse.
Trainers may apply to the ORC for an exemption from this rule if their geographic area is under-serviced by ORC licensed equine veterinarians. As well, a trainer may use a veterinarian not licensed by the ORC for the purposes of scheduled surgeries or emergency treatment of a horse.
The health and welfare of the horse are of paramount concern to the horse racing community. The requirement to use a licensed veterinarian is just one of a number of health, safety and regulatory measures that have been implemented to protect the health of the horse, ensure the safety of the participant, and reinforce the integrity of the horse racing industry.