Guest blog post from Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
Last month, I told you about soring in the Tennessee walking horse industry and the illegal infliction of pain on the feet of horses using chemicals and devices to create an exaggerated gait. We have raised this cruelty crisis with high level officials and urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide stronger regulation of this abusive industry. In recent weeks, we've redoubled our efforts to push for change, and we are starting to see a response.
New rules released today by the USDA take an important step toward eliminating these unethical and cruel practices. The rules make it mandatory for the industry groups responsible for monitoring shows to issue fines and suspensions to those caught soring horses. We applaud this move because we know that mandatory fines send a signal to trainers who profit from torturing horses that their abuse will no longer be treated as business as usual.
What Else is Needed to Stop This Cruelty?
Many horse advocates and USDA's own Inspector General all agree that self-inspection won’t get the job done. Violations must be uncovered in order for fines and suspensions to occur. Industry oversight doesn't work and continuing a system of industry self-policing is likely to perpetuate the same problems. The facts speak for themselves: Even though USDA inspectors attended only 8 to 10% of shows in 2011, they found over half of all violations reported. We cannot rely on the industry to report its own misdeeds.
While the new rules are a true sign of progress and deliver a clear message that violations will not to be tolerated, industry self-regulation is not the long-term solution. It's time for Congress to finally take the power out of the hands of criminals. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to use your voice for these underprotected animals.