Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Chris Collins (R-NY) pen letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him “to do everything possible to vigorously enforce the Horse Protection Act” as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration begins in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
“We encourage the USDA to ensure a strong and consistent enforcement presence at this year’s Celebration, and to utilize the full range of both objective and subjective inspection protocols developed by the department.” See the full text of the letter here.
The five letter signers were the lead sponsors of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693, that passed the House last month by a vote of 333 to 96. The bill would stop the intentional injury to horses.
The 81st annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration began today and runs through August 31.
Today Co-Chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05) and Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL-03), introduced the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act to amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970, ending the abusive practice known as horse soring. This is the third consecutive Congress that Reps. Schrader and Yoho, veterinarians for more than 30 years and two of only three veterinarians currently in Congress, have introduced the PAST Act.
Soring is the practice of intentionally injuring the hooves and legs of Tennessee Walking Horses to exaggerate the leg motion of these high gaited horses. Even though it’s been illegal for over 50 years, it’s still widely practiced.
“Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books for decades banning this cruel practice,” said Rep. Schrader. “We gave them a chance to self-police but the practice continued. Our bill will strengthen and improve current regulations by improving USDA enforcement, increasing civil and criminal penalties, and banning incentives to sore horses. It’s time for Congress to act and put an end to this abusive practice.”
“I am honored to join my fellow veterinarian, Rep. Kurt Schrader and various organizations who support the end of Horse Soring. As a veterinarian and lover of animals, we must continue to keep the pressure on a select group of bad actors in the Walking Horse industry. They must comply with existing law and stop this illegal practice for good,” said Rep. Yoho.
The bill is named in honor of Senator Joseph D. Tydings of Maryland who served in the Senate from 1965-1971. Sen. Tydings sponsored the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and devoted his life working to end the practice of soring. Last Congress, the bill received the support of 290 bipartisan cosponsors. The legislation is also supported by more than 280 organizations, associations and groups, including both veterinary advocates and horse industry professionals, supporting putting an end to this unnecessary and inhumane practice.
USDA Reports Inspectors Issued Nearly Twice as Many Horse Soring Violations at this Year’s Walking Horse Show
Federal and local inspectors issued nearly twice as many soring violations at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration as in the 2013 show, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this week.
A group of largely USDA monitors found 219 violations of the Horse Protection Act during the 11-day competition in Shelbyville. Those figures come after years when fewer violations — including last year’s low of 110 — were identified at the championship event.
The jump in violations comes as the Tennessee Walking Horse industry continues to writhe over accusations of widespread soring, which happens when a horse’s legs are hurt intentionally to exaggerate the high gait for which the breed is known. While industry reformers call for a federal law they say would eliminate the major causes of abuse, others say more objective testing would weed out the industry’s worst trainers and owners.
The report said those apparent signs of soring disqualified 166 competitors during the event — 15.4 percent of all of the horses inspected. [Click Here to read full USDA report]
The vast majority of the violations and disqualifications developed from horses that had signs of a banned substance on them or through the industry’s scar rule, which prohibits horses with past signs of soring from being shown.
The figures proved that federal officials were willing to enforce Horse Protection Act regulations at a higher rate than others designated to inspect, said Keith Dane, vice president for equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States.
More than 50 percent of the 389 horses inspected at the Celebration by USDA officials showed signs of soring, the federal report said.
“All these years the industry has said they’ve solved the problem, yet soring is still rampant,” Dane said.
Celebration CEO Mike Inman questioned the difference shown from this year’s figures, saying that federal officials enforced the scar rule differently than in years past. He said that using fewer subjective ways to monitor a horse would bring more consistent inspection results.
“We’ve had the same horses and the same inspectors for years,” Inman said. “The only thing that’s changed is the interpretation.”
Officials with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said no inspection procedures were altered during the Celebration, department spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said.
Instead, she said, inspectors were using more advanced technology to identify sored horses and penalize their trainers. This year, thermal imaging was used to better recognize abnormal temperatures that can show signs of abuse.
“Soring practices are always evolving and require APHIS to incorporate state of the art technology to capture soring techniques that may not be visible to the naked eye,” Espinosa said in an email.
She did not respond to additional questions about whether the technology used was tied to this year’s rise in violations.
Call for legislation
Because of the technology present, Dane slammed the calls for more objective testing by Celebration officials.
“They ask for science, and when they don’t like the results, they object,” Dane said. He cited the number of violations in repeating his call for Congress to approve the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, which would ban the chains and special pads tied to the most competitive levels of the industry.
Inman supported alternative legislation that he said would strengthen current laws and provide more objective ways to evaluate a horse and eliminate the field’s worst abusers.
“The PAST Act seeks to eliminate soring by eliminating the breed,” Inman said.
Only one of the USDA violations was issued against a flatshod horse, a performance category that doesn’t use padded shoes or other devices. Because multiple violations could be issued to a horse, the number of violations could differ from the number of disqualifications, the report said.
Source: The Tennessean by Brian Wilson Reach Brian Wilson at 615-726-5970 and on Twitter @brianwilson17
HELP PROTECT HORSES FROM THE CRUELTY OF SORING!
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406 / H.R. 1518) will amend the Horse Protection Act to end the industry’s failed system of self-policing, ban the use of devices implicated in the practice of soring, strengthen penalties, and make other reforms needed to finally end this torture. Please contact your U.S. representative and ask them to cosponsor the PAST Act!
Congressman Ed Whitfield defends interaction between his official actions and his wife’s lobbying.
Ethics experts said that the Whitfields could be violating House rules through their joint lobbying for legislation, although these experts cautioned that it isn’t a cut-and-dried case.
“If it were Boeing and they were doing this, it would be a really big deal,” said Melanie Sloan, head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. While Sloan applauded the Whitfields for disclosing their activities — something that has been one of the major problems in other ethics cases — she said the joint lobbying of members and staffers is troubling.
“I can’t see a flat-out ethics violation, but I can certainly see it creates an appearance problem, and it would seem like the better course would be for them not to be lobbying together; that seems inappropriate to me,” Sloan said.
Veteran ethics lawyer Stanley Brand said the activity does raise questions because lawmakers aren’t supposed to gain personal benefit from their official duties.
“It’s not that easy to get from those general standards to a violation,” Brand said. “There have been cases before where spouses have been registered lobbyists and their husbands or wives are on committees where those companies have interest and that’s never been enough to get you to a violation.”
Whitfield is hardly alone when it comes to lawmakers with relatives who lobby. Dozens of congressional relatives are registered lobbyists, and oftentimes, lawmakers with family ties on issues weigh in on legislative proposals. Congress cracked down on ethics reforms in 2007, banning spouses from lobbying a member’s personal office staff and the lawmaker. Other lawmakers whose relatives have lobbied include: the wife of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) as a lobbyist at Kraft Foods and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), whose father — former Rep. Bud Shuster — served as a contract lobbyist.
Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle defended Harriman-Whitfield’s involvement pushing the horse legislation.
“I think sometimes when folks look at issues like this, they nitpick on it as a conflict of interest and I just want to say, No. 1, there is a real difference in working for a coal company or an oil company or any big business, pharmaceutical company and working for a nonprofit organization where there is no financial incentive to gain as an institution,” Pacelle said. “The track record of both Connie and Ed is deep involvement in animal welfare far preceding Connie’s involvement in the Humane Society. She came to the Humane Society because she was already very, very involved on these issues personally.”
Further, Pacelle said that he meets with Whitfield to discuss legislative issues, not Harriman-Whitfield. Pacelle said he didn’t see anything wrong with Whitfield and his wife personally lobbying his colleagues together on the issue of animal cruelty.
“It’d be a shame if our society didn’t allow spouses to advocate for ending poverty in the world, or advancing other core values of our society. I’m not sure what she’s supposed to do, just be mute on these issues with his colleagues,” Pacelle said.
Harriman-Whitfield has a history of advocating against animal cruelty long before joining the Humane Society Legislative Fund in 2007. As assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior under President George H.W. Bush, Harriman-Whitfield is credited with playing a major role in instituting the U.S. and worldwide ban on the elephant ivory trade.
Harriman-Whitfield now serves as senior policy adviser for the Humane Society Legislative Fund and has been engaged in federal lobbying since early 2011. During this two-year period, the HSLF spent $90,000 on in-house lobbying activities, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports. An outside lobbying firm billed the organization an additional $60,000 so far this year, according to another report.
Whitfield’s annual financial disclosure report does not include his wife’s compensation from the Humane Society.
For his part, Whitfield said his standing with the Humane Society hasn’t always been good, although he provided POLITICO with a long list of legislation he has offered dealing with animal welfare during his time in Congress.
“Sometimes I’ve had a good record with them and sometimes I have not had a good record with them, but I’ve been involved in a multitude of issues, so from my perspective there absolutely is no violation of ethics laws and if someone thinks there is they can file a complaint,” Whitfield said, noting that he has a 62 percent rating in the group’s 2013 midterm score card.
Source: Politico by John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer
USDA Animal Care has created a new, online form for members of the public to submit their concerns about animals that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.
The form is on our website here: It is a quick and efficient method to notify us of animal welfare concerns so we can look into those concerns. Complaints can be made anonymously; however, providing your contact information will allow us to contact you if we need additional information.
We will continue to take complaints by phone, email or regular mail. You can find contact information here.
We take all animal welfare complaints seriously and will continue to look into each one thoroughly, regardless of the method used to submit the complaint.
The Animal Welfare Act and its associated regulations set the federal standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain warm-blooded animals that are: exhibited to the public; bred for commercial sale; used in biomedical research; or transported commercially. Facilities engaged in these regulated activities must provide their animals with adequate housing, nutrition, water and veterinary care, and they must protect the animals from extreme weather and temperatures.
The Horse Protection Act and its associated regulations seek to put an end to soring by preventing sored horses from participating in exhibitions/shows/sales/auctions. Soring is an illegal practice in which horses are subjected to chemical and/or mechanical irritants in order to enhance their gait. USDA Animal Care’s ultimate goal is to end this inhumane practice completely.
Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service
Curb the rampant soring and sadistic abuse of animals that has made Tennessee the epicenter of horse abuse in the world
A Congressional hearing is scheduled in Washington next week for a federal bill (HR 1518) that is aimed in a very direct way at the scandalous Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The bill, along with one called S 1406 in the Senate, seeks to strongly curb the rampant soring and sadistic abuse of animals that has made Tennessee the epicenter of horse abuse in the world and will hopefully strengthen the now-toothless federal Horse Protection Act of 1971.
Thus far a whopping 216 members of Congress – 152 Democrats and 64 Republicans -- have stepped forward to co-sponsor the bill, called the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act, that was introduced By Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) and Steve Cohen (D-TN). The Senate bill, sponsored by Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), now has 26 co-sponsors but what is unfathomable is the lack of Tennessee politicians who have come forward to support the bills.
Perhaps they are ashamed that there is even a need for federal legislation but the better notion is that the “Dirty Lick” crowd in Shelbyville has used its political sway to make such men as our two Senators – Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker – join those wretched souls who turn a blind eye on animal abuse in order to win a blue ribbon. Why else wouldn’t Lamar and Bob jump at the chance to rid their own state of such a hideous cancer?
Further, a check on a government website shows that of Tennessee’s nine members of the House, only Rep. Cohen has had the courage to stand up for the bill. The other state representatives are David “Phil” Roe (R-Johnson City), John “Jimmy” Duncan (R-Knoxville), Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper), Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), Diane Black (R-Gallatin), Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), and Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump, in Crockett County).
It is widely-known that Rep. DesJarlais has deep ties to the seedy Shelbyville-based crowd. He was given a fundraising party at last year’s world Celebration and has hounded the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, on behalf of the Dirty Lickers who are responsible for the now-sullied reputation of a breed that was once considered among Tennessee’s greatest treasures.
It is also widely known the Dirty Lickers have been lobbying in Washington since the bipartisan bill was introduced but with an all-star cast of over 100 veterinary, equine and other animal advocates in solid support of the legislation, even the dumbest politicians can recognize those who elect them are overwhelmingly in favor of eradicating horse abuse in Tennessee and neighboring states where soring takes place.
An informal but carefully conducted poll of the Breeders Association recently revealed that 65 percent of its active members supported the PAST Act, this despite a Board of Directors that includes some who have actually been cited for soring their horses with abrasive chemicals in hopes of an unnatural high-stepping gait that is, in a word, “grotesque” to true horsemen around the world.
Since an undercover tape of former Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell viciously beating and torturing horses appeared in 2011, the Walking Horse industry – and the state of Tennessee – has been put under a microscope for its indifference to horse abuse. Both senators and every member of the state’s Congressional delegation are well aware that the notoriety gave way to the fact the state’s horse industry is a national embarrassment that badly reflects on their constituency. The vast majority of Tennesseans are not amused by the Dirty Lickers and their ongoing misdeeds.
But now that Congress is on the brink of passing the bill – only 240 votes are needed – where are Tennessee’s representatives? All are up for reelection in 2014, along with Senator Alexander, and only a fool wouldn’t realize how they vote on the PAST Act will carry over to the polls. People will not only notice how the state’s representatives will vote but they will also be reminded by opposing candidates during next year’s campaigning for votes.
It is curious that in the one state of America where leadership to stop horse abuse is most needed, it is discovered to be most lacking. Curious indeed.
Source: The Chattanoogan, by Roy Exum firstname.lastname@example.org
PROTECT HORSES FROM THE CRUELTY OF SORING!
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406 / H.R. 1518) will amend the Horse Protection Act to end the industry’s failed system of self-policing, ban the use of devices implicated in the practice of soring, strengthen penalties, and make other reforms needed to finally end this torture. Click Here to contact your legislators: Urge them to cosponsor and support the PAST Act!
Source: Humane Society Legislative Fund
Though the work is far from done, this is shaping up to be a very encouraging year for animals on the appropriations front. We already reported on the House Appropriations Committee’s approval of solid funding levels to support USDA’s enforcement of key animal welfare laws, as well as its inclusion of much-needed language to stop horse slaughter plants from operating in the U.S. The Senate Appropriations Committee followed suit with parallel language de-funding USDA inspections att horse slaughter plants.
Now we’ve learned that the Senate Appropriations Committee has also come through with terrific news on funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement and implementation of key animal welfare laws. Thanks to the strong leadership of Chairman Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Ranking Member Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the Committee bill contains the full amounts requested by President Obama in his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2014—which include substantial increases for several programs, notwithstanding the pressure to cut spending overall. The committee understood that it’s possible to achieve macro-level cuts while still taking care to ensure that specific small and vital accounts have the funds they need.
Here are details of what the Senate committee approved:
•$893,000 for USDA’s enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to end the cruel practice of “soring” show horses (deliberately inflicting severe pain on the horses’ legs and hooves to make it hurt for them to step down, so they will exaggerate their high-stepping gait and win prizes). This is well above the current funding level of $678,510, as well as the House committee bill’s level of $500,000.
•$28,203,000 for USDA’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, which sets basic standards for care of animals at almost 28,000 sites across the country—commercial breeding facilities (including puppy mills), laboratories, roadside zoos, circuses, and airlines. Current funding of AWA oversight is $26,406,304 and the House committee bill provides $27,087,000.
•$16,350,000 for USDA’s Investigative and Enforcement Services division, whose responsibilities include investigation of inspectors’ findings regarding alleged violations of federal animal welfare laws and the initiation of follow-up enforcement actions. Current funding is $15,866,009 and the House committee bill provides $16,275,000.
•$89,902,000 for USDA’s Office of Inspector General, which covers many areas including investigations and audits of the agency’s enforcement efforts to improve compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, Horse Protection Act, Humane Methods of
Slaughter Act, and regulations to protect downed animals. The Senate committee report specifically flags the OIG’s work to address animal fighting violations under the AWA, in coordination with state and local law enforcement. Current funding for the OIG is $86,779,028 and the House bill provides $86,779,000.
•Helpful committee report language directing the Food Safety and Inspection Service to ensure that funds provided for Humane Methods of Slaughter Act enforcement will be used to ensure compliance with humane handling rules for live animals as they arrive and are offloaded and handled in pens, chutes, and stunning areas. Similar language is in the House committee report and was included last year for FY13 Agriculture Appropriations.
•$4,790,000 for the veterinary student loan program that helps ease the shortage of veterinarians practicing in rural communities and in government positions (such as those overseeing humane slaughter, AWA, and HPA rules), by repaying student debt for those who choose to practice in one of these underserved areas. Current funding is $4,669,627 and the House bill provides $4,790,000.
Whether an animal welfare law will be effective often turns on whether it gets adequately funded. Having legislators seek that funding is crucial, especially when there are such strong competing budget pressures. We are grateful to Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La., who reached out to their colleagues and mobilized a broad showing of 34 Senators voicing bipartisan support for these animal welfare funds, as did Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., marshaling the support of 164 Representatives in the House. Their collective efforts set the stage for positive committee action,
which in turn has put us in a strong position for good outcomes in the House-Senate negotiations.
We will continue to watch the appropriations process closely and press for the highest possible amounts when the House and
Senate reach agreement on the final legislation. Proper enforcement of these laws not only helps animals but benefits people, too—for example, by protecting consumers from disreputable puppy mills and from mishandling of pets on airlines, reducing food safety risks associated with poor management at slaughter plants, and reducing the risk of bird flu transmission via cockfighting. Our fortunes are intertwined with those of animals, and doing right by them is good policy for all of us.
Former Hall of Fame Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell and two associates have entered guilty pleas to charges of abusing horses in violation of the Tennessee cruelty to animals statute. McConnell pled guilty to 22 counts of animal cruelty, and in order to avoid jail time, agreed to a sentence of one year of house arrest followed by four years of supervised probation, a $25,000 fine, and he is prohibited from owning and training horses for 20 years. Co-defendants John Mays and Jeff Dockery pleaded guilty to 17 counts of animal cruelty and will be subject to supervised probation.
The state is seeking forfeiture of eight horses seized from McConnell’s training barn to ensure the animals are permanently rehomed and retired from the abusive show industry. At the state’s request, The Humane Society of the United States has been providing the horses with intensive rehabilitative care for more than a year.
A Fayette County Grand Jury indicted McConnell and his co-defendants in March 2013. Those charges, along with McConnell’s federal felony conviction for charges related to conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act, stemmed from a 2011 undercover investigation conducted by The Humane Society of the United States that revealed McConnell and his associates
brutally beat horses and used painful chemicals on horses’ legs in a cruel practice known as “soring.” Soring is the method trainers use to force Tennessee walking horses to perform the exaggerated, artificial gait known as the “Big Lick.” McConnell is already serving three years’ probation and has been fined $75,000 on the federal conviction.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said: “The abusive training methods used by McConnell and
his associates are appalling and a clear violation of the law. He fully deserved the stiff sentence handed down as justice for the horses who were beaten over the head, shocked with a cattle prod in the face, or sored so painfully just to win a blue ribbon.”
The HSUS applauds District Attorney Mike Dunavant and Assistant District Attorney Mark Davidson for vigorously prosecuting this case, the assistance provided by USDA’s Office of Inspector General and APHIS Animal Care employees, and supports the state’s request to protect the victimized horses from being returned to their owners, who placed them in McConnell’s care.
- Since July 1, 2012, Tennessee’s new felony aggravated cruelty to livestock law has created a Class E felony for any person to apply “acid or other caustic substance or chemical to any exposed area of an animal or forcing the animal to ingest the substance,” if such activity is carried out in a “depraved and sadistic manner”
- Some in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry deny that soring is still a pervasive part of the training process used to produce the “Big Lick,” but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s testing at the 2012 National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., revealed that 145 horses out of 190 tested, or 76 percent, were found positive for prohibited foreign substances
- A 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General audit exposed how those in the walking horse industry work to evade detection, rather than comply with federal law and train horses humanely. The audit stated that the USDA needs more funding for full enforcement of the Act.
Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, email@example.com
As an animal rights advocate on Capitol Hill, I will do everything within my power to work with animal rights organizations and
like-minded lawmakers to reverse this decision. This is a non-partisan issue- we can all agree: there is no place for horse slaughter in the U.S.”
Legislation to End Rampant Cruelty in Tennessee Walking Horse Competitions Endorsed by Animal Welfare Organizations
The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA support Horse Protection Act amendments that make key reforms including elimination of corrupt industry self-policing scheme.
Animal welfare organizations applaud members of Congress for introducing federal legislation to stop the cruel practice of “soring”—the deliberate infliction of pain to the hooves and legs of horses to produce an artificial high-stepping gait that gains unfair competitive advantage at horse shows. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2013, H.R. 1518, was introduced by lead sponsors U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., along with Reps Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Jim Moran, D-Va., as original cosponsors.
The PAST Act strengthens the Horse Protection Act, originally passed in 1970. The bipartisan bill is endorsed by The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), along with a broad and unusually diverse coalition of horse industry and veterinary organizations, including the American Horse Council, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
The Horse Protection Act was enacted more than 40 years ago, but the systematic abuse of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds persists. Unscrupulous trainers spend their efforts devising a gruesome array of techniques to make it painful for these gentle creatures to take even a step, so they will lift their front legs extremely high in the unnatural gait known as “the Big Lick,” rewarded by judges at some of this industry’s horse competitions.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: “Without these strong amendments to the decades-old Horse Protection Act, ‘Big Lick’ show horses will continue to suffer at the hands of unethical trainers and owners who abuse
horses to win blue ribbons. We’ve upgraded our federal laws in recent years relating to dogfighting and cockfighting, and now it’s time to do so for horse soring.”
Rep. Whitfield said: “Far too often, those involved in showing the Tennessee walking horses have turned a blind eye to abusive trainers, or when they do take action, the penalties are so minor, it does nothing to prevent these barbaric acts. Thisamendment does not cost the federal government any additional money and is essential in helping to put an end to the practice of soring by abusive trainers.”
Rep. Cohen said: “In Tennessee, soring horses is illegal and unacceptable. Those responsible for abusing these horses should be punished severely and banned from the sport. How we treat animals is a direct reflection of our character, both as individuals and a nation. There is no ribbon, no prize nor championship worth the price of one’s humanity.”
Former Sen. Joseph Tydings, D-Md., the author and original sponsor of the Horse Protection Act of 1970, said: “I commend Congressman Whitfield on his leadership in organizing this bipartisan effort to strengthen and improve the Horse Protection Act of 1970, which is long overdue and greatly needed.”
A 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General audit of the agency’s Horse Protection Act enforcement program found that trainers in the industry go to great lengths to evade detection of the cruelty to which they subject their horses, rather than comply with federal law and use humane training methods. The O.I.G. audit also pointed out the serious conflicts of interest in the current system, which allows inspectors to be chosen by the horse industry organizations representing the trainers and putting on the competitions.
Key reforms in H.R. 1518: