COUNTY ANIMAL-CONTROL OFFICER COMPLETES EQUINE INVESTIGATION TRAINING

COUNTY ANIMAL-CONTROL OFFICER COMPLETES EQUINE INVESTIGATION TRAINING

When Doña Ana County animal-control officer Ellie Choate says, “Hold your horses,” she knows what she’s talking about.
Choate successfully completed the Equine Investigation Academy in Durango, Colo., this month. The academy is a six-day, intensive-learning seminar cosponsored by Code 3 Associates and the University of Missouri’s Law Enforcement Training Institute.
Choate joined animal cruelty investigators, veterinarians, law enforcement personnel and others in related fields for the training, which centers on recognizing horse abuse, equine care and handling, nutrition and investigative techniques unique to cases involving horses.
“It was a wonderful school,” Choate said. “We get a lot of calls about horses from people who see an animal that they think is being starved or mistreated. They see a skinny horse and they call us to go check it out. The course taught us about the proper food for horses, the proper amount and how to gauge body fat. It was all hands-on experience with horses, which was great for people like me who don’t own horses but need to know how to tell if they’re being mistreated.”
Choate estimated her office gets 50 or more horse-related calls each year. She said that since completing the training on Sept. 5, she has gone back out to some previous complaint sites to use her new-found knowledge to assess the validity of the complaint.
While she has not documented any cases of serious neglect, she said, she has been able to educate a few horse owners in the county about how they could better take care of their animals. “We try to educate the owners first before writing citations,” she said.
Choate, 41, has been a county animal control officer since 1996. She is a 1996 graduate of New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She also has completed courses in basic animal control and dog and cat cruelty investigations, both sponsored by the National Animal Control Academy.
To report a suspected case of animal abuse, call Doña Ana County Animal Control at 382-3825.