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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

HORSE SLAUGHTER FIGHT

Press Release – Leading U.S. horse racing professionals have joined in solidarity to support a U.S. House amendment that would ban the transport of American slaughter-bound horses across state lines and over the borders for butchering abroad. Led by U.S. Representatives, Troy Carter (D-LA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and John Katko (R-NY), the amendment will be offered to the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST) Act, H.R.3684, which is slated to be on the House floor in the next few weeks.

There are no horse slaughter facilities currently operating within the USA. However, every year over 30,000 American horses are live-exported over the borders to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered—thousands of them being former racehorses and breeding stock. In addition to anti-slaughter policies at the majority of U.S. racetracks, there are numerous aftercare programs and sanctuaries across the nation to help safeguard racehorses from ending up in the slaughter pipeline. Despite these policies and programs, racehorses are slipping through the cracks and find themselves at auction houses that make them vulnerable to being acquired by kill-buyers, the middlemen who send the horses to a grisly death at slaughterhouses. The only way to ensure that every U.S. equine is protected is to pass federal legislation that would make it illegal for any horse to be transported or sold to slaughter.

Last month the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, H.R.3355, was introduced in the U.S. House. If passed into law it would prohibit horse slaughter facilities from opening on U.S. soil and ban the export of horses across the borders. Similar legislation has been introduced in Congress over the last two decades, but has always been thwarted by industries and legislators that want the practice of slaughtering American horses to continue. While efforts to advance the SAFE Act rightly continue, the bipartisan Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko amendment is being offered as an alternative pathway. The amendment garnered the support of nearly 150 U.S. House members on the day it was announced, and that number is expected to increase exponentially.

“After years of pressing for a ban on the slaughter of our American horses, I am thrilled with this latest development and applaud our leadership in Washington for their commitment to the issue. Stopping the transport of slaughter-bound horses will be a game changer.” said Staci Hancock, whose Stone Farm has raised Three Kentucky Derby winners. “It is time to end this brutal practice in the U.S. once and for all. Horses are bred for sport, competition, and companionship, not to be part of the food chain. As owners and breeders we must be the stewards of our horses’ safety and welfare. They look to us for their care and protection and to allow them to go to a horrific slaughter is unconscionable.”

“We had a close call this year getting our Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner The Deputy released from a kill pen. And this was far from our first rodeo.” said Barry Irwin, owner of Team Valor whose Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby in 2011. “I support any initiative that will end this cycle.”

Leading U.S. Trainer, Graham Motion, who conditioned Animal Kingdom said, “It is high time that we end the transport of American slaughter bound horses across state lines and over the borders. We at Herringswell are committed to finding other careers for thoroughbreds once their racing days are over. The practice of transporting horses for slaughter is abhorrent and it must come to an end.”

“Now that the state legislators of New York have done the right thing, I would hope that the Federal Government will join and ensure that our racehorses are provided a fitting home when their careers are over.” said Jeff Gural, proprietor of Allerage Farm and owner of the racetracks, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. “Allowing them to be sold for slaughter should have been eliminated years ago.” 

“As a multiple Kentucky Derby winning jockey and a person who has enjoyed a Hall Of Fame career, my passion for my outstanding equine athletes has never wavered. The Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko amendment to the INVEST Act that will stop interstate travel across state and international borders for horse slaughter is a must.” said Gary Stevens. “There is always a place for our beautiful friends to retire and live out the life they all deserve.”

“Everyone in racing should support the Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko amendment—and every effort to end the slaughter of our horses.  Aftercare organizations work tirelessly and at great expense but the slaughter of our horses, or the extortion of our horses under threat of slaughter, will never end until slaughter is stopped at the federal level.” said Victoria Keith, President of the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization. “We urge every racing entity to step up now and make this push together to stop this profound injustice to our horses and public relations nightmare for racing.”

“If at the very least, you care about horses, and at the very most, you make your living working with horses, then providing support to the Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko amendment is so obvious that one should not have to think twice about it.” said Dr. Patty Hogan, of Hogan Equine. “Welfare issues are at the absolute forefront of public concern for any sport or industry associated with horses in this country, and to ignore that fact is to do so at your own peril and demise.  Getting this amendment passed will finally close the dangerous loopholes that still exist out there for our most vulnerable members of the U.S. equine population.”

According to national polls, over 80 percent of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses and want to see them protected from such a fate. It’s long overdue to stop the slaughter of American horses, and the Carter, Fitzpatrick, Carter amendment is an opportunity we must embrace. Additional horse racing professionals who endorse the amendment include; Claiborne Farm, Cobra Farm, Crawford Farms, Equine Advocates, Fawn Leap Farm, Foxie G Foundation, Gainesway Farm, Jack Knowlton-Sackatoga Stable, Lael Stable, Machmer Hall Thoroughbreds, NP Zito Racing Stable, Neil Drysdale, Pin Oak Stud, R.A.C.E. Fund, Shadowlawn Farm, Shaun Dugan Agent, Tranquility Farm, West Point Thoroughbreds, U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association, and numerous others.

Individuals can help pass the Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko amendment by urging their U.S. Representative to support the measure. The amendment is expected to be offered to the House floor before the August recess, so time is of the essence.

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2 Responses

  1. An integral part of ending horse slaughter is for horse racing to shrink. Thoroughbred racing in North America needs a maximum of 25,000 races per year to support demand from fans. Standardbreds, about 10,000 races. A painful contraction is necessary and it can start with the gradual elimination of race purse subsidies from non-racing sources.

    This can be a logical method for reducing the number of race horse retirements, but when does the horse racing industry do anything logical ?

    1. Last week,as I was,temporarily, watching a $1,500 claiming race in some Assiniboia racetrack ,I was wondering what happens to such equines when they stop winning parts of those miserables purses.. Ugly thoughts. Just imagine how many won’t be around next year,next month or tomorrow as we look at them……Rip.

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