State Officials Investigating Horse Deaths

By: Meredith Stancik
By: Meredith Stancik

A Texas Department of Agriculture investigation continues into the deaths of more than 2 dozen horses at a local equestrian center.
Data released Friday showed the presence of toxic phosphine gas in the dead horses' stomachs. The agriculture department now says Carousel Acres owner Brad Raphel did not have a license to use the pesticide.

In a normal situation the Texas Department of Agriculture says they would wait for a complaint before investigating, but because of the unusual number of deaths the department launched the investigation after hearing about the incident through the media.

Investigators are looking into whether the pesticide used on the feed to treat for weevils, was applied under the direction of a licensed individual.

Further, investigators want to know if the stable owner waited long enough before using the treated feed.

Monday the department of agriculture said they have no record of Carousel Acres owner Brad Raphel applying for a license.

Raphel confirmed he doesn't have a license but says Walter Cronin a friend of his, who he says is a license holder, purchased the phosphine fumigation tablets used to treat the feed.

"I had bought the material through a friend of mine who had the license and we both went down and signed for it at the producers cooperative which was legal," Carousel Acres owner Brad Raphel said. "The department of agriculture had no problem with that so we're safe and and legal in that aspect of it."

Monday afternoon the Department of Agriculture confirmed Walter Cronin does have a private applicator license. By law Cronin had to be present at Carousel Acres when the phosphine tablets were used.
The Department of Agriculture has not confirmed that he was present and Cronin did not return our phone calls. When asked, Raphel said only, "that's the law we were able to meet all requirements and the investigators were happy with us."

The investigation is on going. Raphel could face a fine if the investigation shows the phosphine tablets were misused.


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