Report on Horse Racing and Its Widespread Abuse of Animals

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 5:00pm
Race horses

Although it’s Triple Crown season, the horse racing industry has little to celebrate. A grim cloud of animal cruelty and cheating continues to hang over the sport.

The New York Times recently published the latest article in its series about the widespread, dangerous practice of racehorses being drugged—the drugs enable horses to run through pain and gain a competitive edge. The Times piece revealed that Steve Asmussen (the second-most-winning trainer in thoroughbred racing, with career earnings over $214 million) and some of his associates stand accused of animal abuse after an undercover video proved that many of the horses in Asmussen’s care were subjected to cruel and illegal training methods, including doping and electric shocks.

The video provides irrefutable evidence of what we’ve known for decades: In the race to compete, horse welfare finishes dead last. In 2012, a New York Times exposé revealed that 24 thoroughbreds die at American racetracks every week. The Jockey Club found that thoroughbred racehorses in the U.S. are dying at twice the rate of racers competing in other countries—not surprising given that the U.S., unlike most other countries, has no uniform medication rules for horse racing.

It is time to clean up the U.S. horse racing industry by passing the federal Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act (HISA), H.R. 2012/S. 973. Introduced by Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House, and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in the Senate, this bill will ban performance-enhancing drugs in U.S. horse racing and designate the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as the governing body to create and oversee the implementation of uniform medication rules to protect horse welfare. The Jockey Club recently acknowledged the importance of this bill and agreed that the USADA “has the experience, the knowledge and the credibility to bring much-needed integrity to our sport.”

You can help move this life-saving legislation over the finish line. Please contact your members of Congress today and urge them to support the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act, H.R. 2012/S. 973.

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