American horse racing has had a turbulent year with a spike in fatalities at Santa Anita Park in southern California and other equine health issues. No one knows why 30 horses died this past spring at Santa Anita because injuries and deaths are caused by a series of events, such as the track surface, existing unknown injuries, medication use or abuse, and/or other various factors.
Progress has been made as the industry works to understand the situation at Santa Anita and other tracks by improving racing conditions, including improved racetrack surfaces, better pre-race veterinary inspections, changes in race-day medication, and enhanced training protocols.
But much more needs to be done. A key problem affecting the health of horses remains the abuse and misuse of drugs. Nationwide, racing is plagued by the overuse of therapeutic drugs, which can serve as performance enhancers by enabling horses to push through pain and compete, contributing to the cause of many injuries and deaths.
Perhaps the most important racing reform to improve the health of horses is to establish a national system of equine medication regulation. Today, we have disparate regulations fragmented across 38 states, a patchwork quilt of rules, and racehorses fall through the holes far too often. Among jurisdictions, there is little transparency of treatment records or sharing of the medical history of individual horses. As a result, regulators cannot effectively manage the many issues involved in the health and safety of racehorses.
To address this problem, the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) was introduced by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.) with companion legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and McSally (R-Ariz.). HIA will reform medication use and establish a national anti-doping authority operating under the auspices of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and independent equine experts. USADA is the same congressionally approved organization that governs the medication program for the nation’s Olympic athletes.
The authority established by HIA would significantly improve the health of racehorses by giving us full medication and medical treatment transparency into the racehorse combined with drug reform and a comprehensive system of out-of-competition testing to ensure records are truthful. That means full transparency for investigation of treatments and drugs given to our equine athletes.
And many might be surprised by the support for this legislation from leading animal welfare organizations. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is an outspoken supporter of the HIA as is Animal Wellness Action, one of the nation’s leading groups advocating against animal cruelty. The HSUS is a founding member of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity and established the National Horse Racing Advisory Council to help improve equine health. The Animal Welfare Institute, one of the oldest animal welfare organizations, and the ASPCA are also part of the coalition. In addition, our effort has the support of equine welfare groups, including Horses For Life Foundation. Even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals supports HIA because it will improve racehorse health.
The work of many in the horse racing industry and dedicated animal welfare groups are giving wind to the wings of reform. HIA is moving with 172 co-sponsors in House and hearings and a committee markup look likely for early next year in the Energy and Commerce Committee.
We can significantly improve equine health and reduce fatalities, but to do so, we need one set of anti-doping and medication rules across the country, a system that the Horseracing Integrity Act will create. To date, the industry has been unable or unwilling to act. Congress needs to pass this legislation to better protect the health of our equine athletes.
Source: The Hill
coalition urges congress to reject the "path forward" 10 years to aml plan for wild horses and burros
Today, a broad coalition of stakeholders, organizations, and businesses sent a letter to the U.S. Congress in strong opposition to a dangerous and unworkable proposal that threatens our iconic American wild horses. The "Path Forward" 10 Years to AML proposal, a brainchild of The HSUS, ASPCA and Return to Freedom, working in concert with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, calls for the removal of at least 45,000 to 60,000 and potentially as many as 200,000 wild horses and burros from our federal lands over the next ten years, putting the horses at significant risk of slaughter and placing a burden on taxpayers for an outcome that is widely opposed by the public.
“This is terrible deal for wild horses. The unfunded 'plan' will put tens of thousands more wild horses in government holding, with their fate left to the whims of future appropriators,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director at the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Make no mistake: this could result in the eventual slaughter of tens of thousands of wild horses. The cattlemen’s lobby is the only winner, achieving the near extinction-level population of wild horses they have long sought."
“This ill-considered plan would remove tens of thousands of our iconic American wild horses from the range at a billion-dollar price-tag to the taxpayer over a decade,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “The biggest beneficiary of this plan would not be horses, but the livestock industry, which will see the federal government remove wild horses so that more cattle can graze on our public lands.”
"In its current form, this plan would be disastrous for our wild herds,” said Ginger Kathrens, founder and executive director of The Cloud Foundation. “It provides for no meaningful accountability on the part of BLM to implement humane and reversible fertility control measures. This plan gives BLM the mandate it has always wanted to round up more than 50,000 of our wild horses, doubling the number in off-range holding at enormous cost to the American taxpayer. We fear that unless funds are allocated to support those horses in holding for the rest of their natural lives, we will eventually see them sold killed in slaughterhouses. Meanwhile, our wild herds will be even more decimated, suffering deterioration in health due to poor genetic variability. Bottom line, wild horses and burros will eventually disappear from the West altogether. We suspect this is exactly what some of the stakeholders presenting this plan want."
Rounding up horses and burros is a highly stressful and dangerous experience for these animals. Injuries and deaths are not uncommon, and many horses will be separated from their families. The plan places wild horses and burros at significant risk of slaughter. The proposal significantly increases the number of captive horses at federally run and financed facilities and will create a future fiscal crisis. If history repeats itself, this increase will provoke pro-slaughter lawmakers to call for mass slaughter and euthanasia as a matter of fiscal responsibility.
As a humane and responsible alternative, stakeholders are instead calling for a step up in BLM-conducted fertility control programs, which allows horses to be managed humanely on the range. Proposed by U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), fertility control will eliminate the need for mass roundups and removals and spare taxpayers the need to finance long-term care, feeding, and leasing of land.
Nearly 50 signors, including wild horse advocacy organizations, horse rescues, animal protection organizations, and horse-related businesses across the nation have banded together to defeat this egregious measure, urging legislators to reject the dangerous proposal:
It’s official. The controversial horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico will not be opening. “I think it’s just time to stop and see what will happen now,” said Valley Meat Owner Rick De Los Santos.
For almost four years, De Los Santos has been trying to slaughter horses for food. He’s faced court battles from animal rights groups and the Attorney General along with federal push back. Earlier this year the President signed a bill to stop funding horse slaughterhouse inspections until 2016.
Friday, De Le Santos told KRQE News 13 the fight is over. “It really is at this point at the end of that business in Roswell by them,” said Valley Meat Attorney A. Blair Dunn. On Thursday, Dunn submitted a letter to the New Mexico Environmental Department withdrawing the plant’s application for a ground water discharge permit.
The permit, which would allow the plant to discharge animal waste, is a must for the plant to operate. Blair claims the department strung them along for seven months, never saying no the permit, but never saying yes either.
“They’ve been telling us well we need a 30-day extension, we need 45 days, we need 60, we cant make a decision right now,” said De Los Santos.
The letter states the inability of the Secretary to make a decision has contributed to the destruction of Valley Meat’s lawful business. Valley Meet also claims the Attorney General’s office played a big role in the slaughterhouse closure and Dunn says there’s a good chance they’ll sue the state because of it.
Animal activists say they’re happy the horse slaughter fight is ending. “It’s great news for New Mexico,” said Laura Bonar with Animal Protection of New Mexico. “Horse slaughter is cruel, horse slaughter is dangerous and horse slaughter is not supported by Americans.”
Source: KRQE, by Emily Younger
Click here to read Valley Meat's Notice of Withdrawal of Application to the New Mexico Environmental Department.