Friday, June 22, 2012

Fritz Floto has died

Fritz Floto, Canadian registrar for highly-prized Hanovarian dressage horses and horse breeder who lived near Fergus, has died.

Hanovarian horses are prized for dressage
He was in a difficult situation in the 1980s when he identified about 20 Hanovarian horses that had been imported under false pretenses.

He came to me with the story when I was farm reporter for the Waterloo Region Record. I had worked for the federal agriculture department and suggested that he report the fraud to the feds because it involved a violation of health-related import standards.

Floto identified the true pedigree of these Hanovarian horses through their markings and stature.

They were moved under false pedigrees from a European country where they would have faced lengthy quarantines to enter Canada, and a five-year wait for a single horse to get into Canadian quarantine facilities, to another European country that enjoyed easy trading relationships with the United States.

They were moved to the U.S. under the false pedigrees, then easily entered Canada to live on a farm near Milton.

The illegal importation was worth many thousands of dollars per horse to the Austrian importer.

The agriculture department’s veterinarians ordered the horses back to the United States where officials stood ready to order them back to Europe.

But the Austrian appealed to the courts where Justice James Jerome, a former Liberal speaker of the House of Commons, ruled that the horses could remain at Milton until the quarantine period passed to determine if they were, indeed, a disease risk.

The federal government, with Eugene Whelan in charge of the agriculture department, chose not to appeal so the horses remained in Canada. I always wondered whether the Austrian befriended Whelan to influence the decision to allow the horses to stay.

Floto is survived by two sons, Fred and Bernie.