The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade heard that voice today during a hearing on H.R. 2012, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, a bill introduced by Reps. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., to protect horses from pervasive race-day doping and other inhumane practices. (A companion bill, S. 973, is sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.). The legislation would safeguard both the animal and human athletes who participate in the sport, as well as help the racing industry’s reputation recover from bad publicity about cheating and unfair advantages.
Five of the six witnesses who testified before the subcommittee this morning—including a former Minnesota Racing Commissioner, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the founder and director of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, and HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle—spoke eloquently in favor of the bill. They explained that drugging is a serious problem that puts racehorses and jockeys at risk, and puts the integrity of the entire industry, including owners, trainers, and veterinarians, at risk as well. H.R. 2012 is a pro-animal, pro-industry measure that can wipe out the cheating by relying on the USADA, an independent body that has helped root out doping in other professional sports, to oversee and enforce new rules.
The sole opponent of the bill downplayed the existence of doping in horseracing, and argued for the status quo. But it’s clear that the status quo is not working, with an average of 24 horse deaths on racetracks around the country every week. There are 38 pari-mutuel racing jurisdictions in the U.S., with about 100 racetracks, and each state sets up its own rules with respect to medicating of horses, while horses and their trainers routinely move between the states for races. Imagine if the NFL had different rules in each of the 32 professional football stadiums, or the NHL in 30 different hockey arenas? It would be chaos with no national standards or consistency.
Almost all other professional athletes are subject to uniform safety and anti-cheating regulations, whether it’s the NFL, the Olympics, or professional bicycling. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act would require that any racetrack choosing to offer “simulcast” wagering, where the industry finds most of its profits, must first have an agreement with USADA. That agreement would include covering the costs of the anti-doping measures, with no additional cost to taxpayers. The bill calls for stiff penalties for cheating, including a “once and done” lifetime ban for the most severe doping violations, a “three strikes” rule for other serious violations, and suspensions for minor violations. It also bans race-day medication with a two-year phase-in to give the industry time to transition.
The rampant use of both legal and illegal drugs—not to get horses healthy, but to get them to the gate by masking painful injuries—consistently puts injured, sick, and worn out horses on the fast track to terrible injury or death during the race and after. The cheaters in the industry are known to experiment with anything that might give them an edge, including Viagra, blood-doping agents, stimulants, cancer drugs, cocaine, “pig juice,” and last year’s new craze—“frog juice,” an amino acid found naturally in certain species of frogs. “Frog juice” (dermorphin) is 40 times more powerful than morphine and is used to mask an injured horse’s pain. Doping injured horses to get them to race, when coupled with the recent trend of breeding horses for speed rather than durability, contributes to the increase in breakdowns, and to the epidemic of “castoffs” from the tracks who end up in the cruel horse slaughter pipeline.
As Chairman Lee Terry, R-Neb., pointed out at the start of the hearing, horseracing has been around for a long time—maybe almost as long as the deep human relationship with horses has existed. But if the industry continues to discount animal welfare and allow dishonest and misleading practices, it will continue to see its popularity erode. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will create more confidence in the sport of racing and a level playing field for competitors, while creating a safe culture for equine athletes.
HELP BAN PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS FOR RACE HORSES!
Please contact your U.S. Senator and two U.S. Representatives and urge them to cosponsor and support the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. Click Here to take action!
Princess Anne wants her fellow Britons to chew on the idea of including horse meat in their daily diets.
The royal caused a stir Thursday after advocating the public consumption of the meat while speaking at a conference hosted by World Horse Welfare, a charity in which she serves as president.
"Our attitudes towards the horse meat trade, I think might, and the value of horse meat, may have to change," the princess said.
Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth, suggested that the number of abuse cases would drop if horse owners saw future worth in the animal. "Would that reduce the number of welfare cases if there was a real value for horse meat in the public sector?" she asked the audience. "I think it needs a debate."
Horse meat is regularly consumed in other European countries like France, Italy and particularly Belgium, but there is a social stigma against it in Britain.
"As I was reminded, not so long ago by somebody who traveled in France, the most expensive piece of meat in the local butcher was a filet of horse meat," Anne said. The princess also made reference to the horse meat scandal, which rocked many parts of Europe earlier this year, when horse DNA was discovered in an array of food products sold throughout the U.K.
"The scandal was that that was food that was improperly marked, not that it had horse meat in it," Anne argued, "And that if you'd put the correct label on it and put it back on the shelves, that would've been the correct answer, for everybody."
After her comments sparked headlines, Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, came out in Anne's defense. "Around 7,000 horses are currently at risk of abandonment and neglect and charities like ours are struggling to cope as winter approaches," Owers pointed out. "The economic downturn has driven prices for horses and ponies to rock bottom, and the sad fact is that from a purely economic perspective, they can now be worth more as meat."
"Our president has been brave enough to say this openly in the hopes of generating a thought-provoking debate," he added.
Source: CBS News
Obama Administration Allows America's War Horses To Fall Into Slaughter Pipeline
Today we mark the service and sacrifice of our veterans, as well as our commitment to look out for them once they return to civilian life.
Lately we've been reminded that this commitment extends to the military's service animals, like the dogs who are now placed in good homes after being retired from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Unfortunately, one group of animal veterans has been forgotten. These are America's War Horses -- the horses who were used as cavalry mounts and who nobly served our country -- often giving their lives. Right now, the federal government is complicit in a shameful violation of our responsibility toward these historic and cultural icons.
The remote and rugged northwest corner of Nevada on the California-Oregon border is called "Mustang Country" because of the wild horses that have roamed there since the 1800s. Wild horses are deeply entrenched in the history of the area; on the backs of their ancestors, the West was won.
Wild horses captured from the lands that are now the Sheldon Refuge were captured and shipped overseas to serve in battle, including in the Spanish-American War and World War I. These historic animals -- whose presence on the Sheldon lands predates the creation of the refuge by at least half a century -- played a critical role in America's past.
The decedents of America's War Horses should be honored and protected. Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has turned its back on these horses, disregarding and literally disposing of them.
Historically, pressure from ranchers wanting to graze cattle on federal lands in and around Sheldon, led to an endless series of roundups that often ended tragically for Sheldon's mustangs. In 1971, the Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, but it only applied to wild horses on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service Lands. Sheldon's horses were left out in the cold.
In the early 1990s cattle grazing was eliminated from the refuge and the Sheldon range rebounded. Today, forage is lush and plentiful, the antelope population (the primary species that the refuge was created to protect) is larger than ever, and the wild horses and burros are fit, healthy and strong.
But the roundups continue. In 2012, despite thousands of Americans sending in comments urging protection of the Sheldon wild horses and burros, the FWS turned their backs on the public and America's War Horses by pushing forward with a new plan to eradicate these animals within five years.
A year later, the assault on Sheldon's wild herds began. Between September 9 to 14, a helicopter stampede captured 415 wild horses. Despite public opposition and a federal lawsuit, refuge officials proceeded to turn 252 of these horses over to a government contractor, Stan Palmer of J&S Associates in Mississippi, who is supposed to find them "quality" and "long-term" homes.
The problem is, the FWS's government contract with Palmer is vague and today the FWS is unable to verify the whereabouts of as many as 202 of 262 wild horses previously placed with Palmer between 2010 and 2012. The agency's own investigation found that "a bunch" of these horses were sold at a livestock auction, where kill buyers often purchase horses for shipment to slaughter.
As one legitimate Mississippi horse rescue person put it, "You can't even find a home for a good riding horse in Mississippi. What do you think Stan Palmer is going to do with hundreds of wild, untamed Nevada mustangs?"
The answer appeared in a Facebook post by one of Palmer's employees stating:
"we do government contacting (sic) to take in wild horses and give them homes. These are not branded or tattooed mustangs. They are simply wild horses. We are not aloud (sic) to sell them. you show up with your trailer and load em up... when they leave my house they are no longer my business."Days later, horses were hauled away by the trailer load.
It's the kind of situation that fuels cynicism about government spending and waste. Since 2010, the federal government has paid Palmer nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to take wild Nevada mustangs and give them away in Mississippi. This benefits the government in one way: by laundering the horses through a middleman, the FWS avoids the political heat that would result from taking them directly to a slaughter auction.
Sadly, the arrangement does not benefit American taxpayers or these defenseless horses, who just over two months ago, were roaming wild and free. Nearly 20,000 citizens have contacted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell about this travesty, and thousands have written to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has direct oversight over FWS refuges. But Washington does not seem to care.
On this Veterans Day, while Washington looks the other way, America's War Horses are literally being sent into the slaughter pipeline.
The Obama administration and Congress have turned their backs on America's War Horses despite polls that show Americans reject horse slaughter and support protecting and preserving wild horses on the western range. This Veterans Day please remember the sacrifices of all veterans, including the tens of thousands of horses who tirelessly served this country, and their descendants, who today are forgotten and literally thrown away.
Source: The Huffington Post by Suzanne Roy, Campaign Director for American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign