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.
People who hurt animals don’t stop with animals. There is an established link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans — regularly referred to as “The Link.” This link makes it critically important that cruelty toward animals be taken seriously by law enforcement, and by society at large. This is for the sake of the animals themselves, and for people who are also at risk.
Research Shows the Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Toward Humans
Ample research backs up the finding that there is a direct link between acts of cruelty to animals and violence toward humans. This includes child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent behavior. Here are just a handful of examples of the research supporting that conclusion:
The Law Must Protect Animals and Punish Animal Abusers
Both because animals themselves need protection, and because of the link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans, violence against animals must be taken seriously under the law.
There are some ways in which the law is reflecting this seriousness. For example, all 50 states now have felony animal cruelty laws on the books. Nearly two thirds of states allow pets to be included in domestic violence protective orders. These are just among the advances we’ve seen at the state level in this area.
At the federal level, there is progress, too. As of 2016 the FBI began tracking crimes against animals in the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), in the same way it tracks other serious criminal offenses. This tracking will help paint a better picture of who is committing crimes against animals, and where these crimes are taking place — and will thus also help indicate where humans are also at risk.
But we are not yet at the point where cruelty to animals is consistently reported, investigated, prosecuted, or punished in ways that match the seriousness of the crime.
Source: Animal Legal Defense Fund
Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act , S.1007, to protect horses from the abusive practice known as “soring,” in which show horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait rewarded in show rings.
Although federal law currently prohibits soring, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue this inhumane practice.
“Horses have been a part of our Commonwealth’s history and culture since the settling of Jamestown, and like all animals, they deserve to be treated with care and compassion,” said Sen. Warner. “The PAST Act will further protect these animals from the cruel practice of inflicting deliberate pain and suffering for show purposes.”
“I support the humane treatment of all animals and the responsible training of horses,” said Sen. Crapo. “I remain committed to ending the cruel practice of soring, and will continue to promote enforcement of current animal welfare laws.”
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:
In 2017, the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) moved to strengthen certain aspects of the Horse Protection Act by incorporating some of the major tenets of the PAST Act. However, the rule was not finalized before the end of the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration has halted the process. The PAST Act would codify these changes into law.
Joining Warner and Crapo in the introduction of The PAST Act, S.1007, are U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
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