Guest blog post from Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
"Every walking horse that enters into a show is sored. They've got to be sored to walk. There ain't no good way to put it, but that's how it is.”
These were the words of Barney Davis at his sentencing hearing in a Chattanooga, Tennessee, federal court on February 27 after being found guilty of soring horses. Last night our friends at the Humane Society of the United States released horrific undercover footage showing horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face, burned with caustic chemicals, and violently cracked across the head and legs with heavy wooden sticks. These are just a few of the barbaric training methods used in the walking horse industry.
What Is Soring? Soring is a training technique that is even worse than it sounds. Painful chemicals and other devices are used to cause such agony to a horse’s front limbs that any contact with the ground makes the horse quickly jerk up his or her leg. Soring is done to elicit “the big lick,” a high-stepping gait prized and rewarded at horse shows. And it gets worse. To hide their cruelty, trainers also do what they euphemistically call “stewarding”—beating and inflicting even greater pain to the horses so they don’t react poorly during inspection. This brutality, as captured in HSUS’ footage, masks the fact that trainers are soring the animals. It sounds impossible that this practice continues, even when showing sore horses is banned by the Horse Protection Act (HPA). This practice is violent and abusive—and we will not tolerate it.
What Is the USDA Doing about It? Last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors had the resources to attend just 62 of approximately 700 walking horse shows nationwide. In addition, although the USDA promised in March to release rules that would take an important step toward enforcing the ban of these unethical and cruel practices, they have failed to do so.
Last month, the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston and the MSPCA Nevins-Farm rescued 34 miniature horses kept on a small property in West Boylston, Massachusetts. The overwhelmed owner voluntarily surrendered the severely neglected animals after a state veterinarian concluded their basic needs were not being met.
"These horses were extremely malnourished due to an alarmingly high level of intestinal parasites," explains Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, director of veterinary medical services at the ARL of Boston. Dr. Smith-Blackmore adds that the horses' hooves were in very poor condition, and that they were also suffering from severe skin infections known as "rain rot" from living outside without shelter.
To help cover the costs of caring for and medically treating the horses, the ASPCA granted $9,000 grant to the ARL of Boston.
The ARL of Boston is happy to report that 17 of the 19 mini horses in its care have been placed in loving, permanent homes. The remaining two minis continue to be cared for by ARL of Boston’s Animal Care and Adoption Center staff in Dedham. Both horses require additional socialization and are growing more confident every day. The ARL of Boston is hoping to place them in permanent homes soon.
"We would like to thank the ASPCA for being there when we needed them," Dr. Smith-Blackmore says. "Their financial support allowed us to focus on these horses' care and rehabilitation by relieving some of the budgetary pressure of such large-scale rescue effort."
Cats may not really have nine lives, but they do usually land on their feet. It’s a smart skill evolved from eons of clambering through trees to dodge predators and hunt for food. But this innate ability makes for some serious worry in the urban world.
Pet parents who live in tall buildings often allow their cats to sun themselves in open windows and on fire escapes, unaware that their felines’ prey drive may lead them to pounce on moving birds or insects. Tragically, falls often result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs—and even death.
While it may sound a bit like urban legend, High-Rise Syndrome is actually a serious problem for cats in the city.During the warmer months, veterinarians at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City see approximately three to five cases a week!
Why Take Chances?
The good news is that these falls are 100 percent preventable. Please visit our High-Rise Syndrome FAQ for a complete list of safety measures all feline parents should take.
No, we’re not talking about weeds, folks. Though they are quite the threat to your garden, the dangers we’re talking about are far more hazardous. In fact, they can be downright deadly.
Every year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives tens of thousands of calls involving animal companions who’ve been exposed to common garden hazards, including the following:
Poisonous Plants When designing and planting your green space, keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are very toxic to cats and dogs. Please visit our full list of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden.
Fertilizer Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends.
Cocoa Mulch Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch can pose serious problems for our canine companions.
Insecticides Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton and most forms of rat poisons.
Have you heard the news? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is finally planning to crack down on Internet puppy sales! Why, you ask? Well, believe it or not, buying a puppy online is just as bad as buying one from a pet shop—maybe even worse!
Currently, the federal Animal Welfare Act—passed 40 years ago, before the Internet even existed—only requires breeders who sell dogs to pet stores or to puppy brokers to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. The USDA has just released proposed regulatory language to close this loophole.
Don’t Be Fooled! Many puppies sold online come from puppy mills. Most websites that sell puppies online claim to be good dog breeders—they even use fancy terms like “certified kennel”, “AKC-registered”, “pedigree” and “health certified,” and include photos of cute puppies frolicking in ideal settings. The truth is that many of these breeders are really puppy mills in disguise. Trust us, no truly responsible breeder would ever sell their dogs online and have them shipped to your doorstep.