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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Ken Weingartner — The United States Trotting Association announced Friday (April 10) that it has endorsed the passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2019 (H. R. 961), which states that “the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption is hereby prohibited.”

This matter was discussed and approved during the USTA’s Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday (April 7) and made official upon the conclusion of the Association’s closing general session of its Board of Directors annual meeting Thursday (April 9).

The passage of the legislation effectively would ban horse slaughter in the United States by making it illegal for the transportation and export of horses for slaughter domestically or in other countries. The bill emphasizes that, unlike other livestock, horses are not raised for human consumption.

The USTA is a strong advocate for horse aftercare.

Two years ago at the Board of Directors meeting, USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner proposed and the directors supported the creation of the Standardbred Transition Alliance, an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to: “accredit, inspect, and award grants to approved organizations that acquire, rehabilitate, train and re-home Standardbreds, using industry funding.”

The USTA also provided some of the initial funding for the organization, which is now established, operational, and governed by an independent board of directors composed of key industry stakeholders, including two USTA directors.

In addition, the USTA has a longstanding history of programs that provide assistance to retired Standardbred racehorses.

Support Our Standardbreds is a USTA program that provides financial assistance to public agencies and 501(c)(3) charitable organizations caring for registered Standardbreds that have been abandoned or subject to removal due to legal intervention.

Full Circle is an initiative that connects two or more people with a shared concern for a horse with the purpose of assisting that horse if or when it is ever needed. Anyone who wants to be contacted if a registered Standardbred needs help at any time in their life can enroll.

The USTA’s Pleasure Horse program allows a horse owner to designate and protect a horse that they are selling or giving away for non-racing purposes with their intention that the horse will no longer be raced and/or bred. Pleasure Registration is final and irreversible.

To read more on the USTA’s Life After Racing programs, click here.

The Safe Act of 2019 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 4, 2020, by Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL).

To read the complete text of the SAFE Act of 2019, click here.

Ken Weingartner, for U S Trotting Assn., is an HRI Harness contributor

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