Oklahoma agriculture officials confirmed Tuesday they are aware of allegations that some involved in the transport of horses to the state were using fraudulent veterinary health forms.
Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese said officials with the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department have not responded publicly sooner because the matter is being investigated by the state's multicounty grand jury.
“We are aware of the complaints,” Reese said.
“We have chosen not to interrupt that investigation while it was going on.”
Reese said information was turned over to the state attorney general's office.
The investigation, he said, is continuing into allegations of stolen property, concealing stolen property, transporting stolen property across state lines and other crimes.
An animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, criticized the state agency Tuesday for failing to act on evidence it presented that involved apparent fraudulent veterinary health forms in the transport of horses.
The horses were transported across state lines from Iowa through Kansas and Missouri, into Oklahoma, and finally to Texas.
Last year, a PETA undercover investigator rode along with a “kill buyer,” someone who buys horses and transports them to slaughterhouses or feedlots, the group said.
PETA said the kill buyer was caught on tape admitting that the test forms he carried “certifying” that the horses in his trailer were free of equine infectious anemia — a potentially fatal viral disease with no known cure or preventive vaccine — were those of other horses.
He said his veterinarian had taught him how to falsify the forms.
The potentially infected horses were unloaded into a feedlot in Stroud, which risked the health of hundreds of other horses, according to PETA.
The group said it also has submitted a complaint to the Texas Animal Health Commission regarding its failure to prevent the same kill buyer from bringing horses to that state.