Loudoun officials are announcing that a new facility could open as early as summer 2019 that would allow horses, livestock and family pets arriving in the U.S. from overseas to be processed at Dulles International Airport, instead of being flown to New York or Florida and driven hundreds to miles to the D.C. area.
“Loudoun started developing a master plan for the equine sector three years ago, as part of the Rural Economy Business Development Strategy,” said Kellie Hinkle, Loudoun’s Agricultural Business Development Officer. “The quarantine facility represents a foundational piece of building that strategy.”
Animals entering the country must first be tested and isolated for several weeks to make sure they don’t bring in diseases or parasites. The only two quarantine facilities on the east coast are at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Miami International airport. Bringing animals from those facilities to Loudoun requires extra time and expense that would be eliminated with a new facility at Dulles, county officials said in a release.
“The equine industry contributes more than $180 million to Loudoun’s economy each year,” Buddy Rizer, executive director of the Department of Economic Development, said. “Loudoun also has the most robust equine industry in Virginia, and is home to more than 15,000 horses.”
Loudoun partnered with Fauquier County on an impact and feasibility study for the quarantine facility. Between Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax counties, there are almost 130 horse shows and events in Northern Virginia each year. Processing the horses closer to where they compete would mean less stress on the animals, and less expense for their owners, county officials said.
“The proposed Animal Quarantine Facility at Dulles airport is a critical cornerstone to Loudoun’s strong and growing equine industry and a vital part of Western Loudoun and our rural economy,” Supervisor Geary Higgins (R- Catoctin) said in a statement.
The study found that the 50,000 square foot equine quarantine facility would have 48 stalls, processing an estimated 600 horses per year coming into and going out of the U.S. Construction would cost $17.8 – $25 million and take about 18 months to complete. The facility would cost $9.4 million per year to operate and result in 75 new jobs, Rizer said in a statement to the Board of Supervisors.
The facility would enable the region to attract world-class equine events that would have an $18.1 million economic impact per year. Three private companies have expressed an interest in building and operating an equine quarantine facility at Dulles, Rizer said
“This facility would open up important international business further supporting our facilities like Morven Park, Virginia International Polo Club and Great Meadows,” Higgins said. “I commend Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development and look forward to working with our colleagues in Fauquier County and the private sector to see this project to completion.”
Rizer also said the feasibility study focused solely on an equine quarantine facility, so a larger facility would have to be built in the county wants household pets and livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats processed at Dulles as well.
Should livestock and pets be included in a new facility, this would also result in less stress and expense for families bringing pets to the D.C. area from overseas — benefiting the region’s large population involved in international assignments, including military and defense personnel, foreign service agents, the diplomatic corps and the intelligence community.
The community is invited to attend a presentation about the quarantine facility on March 30 from 6-9 p.m. at Harmony Hall in Hamilton. The event is free, open to the public and is hosted by the Loudoun County Equine Alliance.