New quarantine facility opens at New York’s JFK airport

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With the opening of new on-site quarantine facilities at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), comfortable stalls rather than long trailer rides await horses arriving in the United States.

The Ark at JFK is a 14.4-acre, $65 million facility providing on-site, travel-related services for large and small animals at JFK. Earlier this year, the Ark opened the Pet Oasis, a pre- and post-flight holding facility for small animals, along with the Equine Export Center, a rest and inspection area for horses being prepared for flights out of the country.

Previously, horses arriving in the United States through JFK were transported to a separate facility 90 miles away in upstate New York to fulfill United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) quarantine requirements. “The ARK at JFK’s quarantine facility significantly reduces the stress experienced by horses being unloaded on the airside ramp, having their blood drawn and transferred to a trailer for an additional two hours of travel to Newburgh,” says Elizabeth A. Schuette, managing director of The Ark. “At our facility, the horses are immediately evaluated and accommodated in comfortable stalls.”

Schuette estimates about 3,000 to 4,000 horses will arrive and depart from JFK each year. Other USDA-approved import quarantine facilities in the United States are in Miami and Los Angeles. Most imported horses are quarantined for three to seven days, depending on their point of origin. “[The quarantine period depends] on the originating country’s current disease status. This is monitored and determined by USDA-APHIS,” says Schuette.

During their stay, horses will be housed in one of 48 climate-controlled stalls with biosecurity measures designed with the help of Cornell University. Grooms to tend to the horses and security are on-site around the clock, and veterinary services are continually available. “Our goal is to create a more efficient and safe process by reducing the need for additional travel and offering trained animal-care staff immediately pre- and post-flight,” says Schuette.

This article first appeared in the August 2017 issue of EQUUS (Volume #379)