Written by PETA
Here's some good news: The thoroughbred racing rag The Blood-Horse reports that the TV ratings for last weekend's Belmont Stakes (the last "jewel" in the Triple Crown) were the lowest ever in the 50 years that ratings have been tracked. Apparently, Saturday-evening TV viewers have better things to do than watch a dozen horses get flogged for a mile and a half.
In a New York Times blog post the following day, Bennett Liebman, a member of the New York Racing Association's board of directors, opined on the many reasons for "the decline of horse racing," among which, he says, are corruption, drugs, and "the use of whips on horses and the catastrophic injuries we have seen in major races," all of which "have contributed to the public perception that horse racing is a cruel sport which has little concern for the health or the safety of the horse."
I think Liebman is on to something. Do you agree that horse racing is on its last (broken) legs?
Written by Alisa Mullins
Yes! Ernie Paragallo, the jerk thoroughbred breeder who starved more than 175 horses on his farm in New York's Hudson Valley, has been sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined $30,000. In addition, he must pay restitution to humane groups that cared for the horses after they were seized. Of course, the fine is just a drop in the (oat) bucket for a former Goldman Sachs exec who netted more than $20 million during the 20 years that he bred and raced horses, but that jail time's gotta hurt.
"Your moral compass is out of kilter," Judge George Pulver Jr. told Paragallo as he handed down the maximum sentence. "Your sense of integrity, your code of conduct, your perception of right and wrong was perhaps formed by your days on either mean streets or Wall Street."
Coming in the midst of the Triple Crown season, the sentencing serves as a timely reminder to stay away from racetracks and the cruelty to horses that's associated with them. Here's hoping that Paragallo gets nothing but bread and water during his stay in the pokey—and even that's more than his horses got.
While billboard companies in Louisville may want to keep Kentucky Derby fans in the dark about the racing industry's appalling abuses, which lead to breakdown and death, The Onion makes them front-page news.
In making their predictions for the upcoming Kentucky Derby, The Onion's "Steam Room" commentators reveal just how shockingly* far "horse beaters" (their words) will go in forcing their beleaguered, drugged thoroughbreds to race (or hobble) toward the finish line, including whippings and more. As one of the sportscasters notes, "As far as I know, there are no rules in horse racing. You just procure a horse and get [him or her] across the finish line by any means necessary." Folks, you won't want to miss this video:
The last time "America's Finest News Source" shed light on "expendable athletes," some readers didn't make the connection to the horse-racing industry—but this time, there can be no denying it. Thanks, Onion!
Written by Karin Bennett
Can Kentucky Derby fans handle the truth? Outdoor advertisers in Louisville don't seem to think so. We sent the ad below to every billboard and bus ad company in town with the intention of running it during next week's Derby, but they all turned us down flat.
We wanted racegoers—and everyone—to know that the horrific on-track breakdown of Eight Belles at the end of the 2008 Kentucky Derby was no fluke. On average, three horses break down on racetracks in America every single day. That adds up to at least 2,000 racehorses dead on tracks since Eight Belles collapsed two years ago after both her front ankles snapped.
After being prodded by PETA, the racing industry has made some improvements, including banning steroids from the states where Triple Crown races are run, but the misuse of legal drugs is still the biggest cause of breakdowns and deaths, and the industry has yet to address that issue in any meaningful way.
Many trainers use injections of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to mask fatigue and injury and make horses feel well enough to run when they should be resting and recovering. Racing subjects horses' bodies to punishing stresses that can lead to breakdowns. Racing insiders tell us that some horses are injected with various drugs 25 to 30 times in the week before a race, and it's all legal.
PETA advocates a ban on all drugs during the week leading up to a race, among other reforms. Please take a moment to send an e-mail to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to let its officials know that Eight Belles has not been forgotten and to demand that the authority take steps to ensure that no more horses die in pursuit of the roses. As for the Derby: Don't go, don't watch, and don't bet.
In the latest installment of "Yeah, What PETA Said," the Jockey Club has released the findings of a study that concluded that horses used for racing are dying on U.S. and Canadian tracks at twice the rate—at least—of any other country, probably for the very reasons that PETA has stated (over and over again): drugs and dirt tracks.
Horses forced to race in the U.S. and Canada, where they commonly race on dirt tracks and where the use of many drugs that mask the pain of injuries is still legal, die at the rate of 2.04 per 1,000 starts (or races). By contrast, in England—where horses are raced less frequently and mainly on turf and where the use of performance-enhancing drugs is much more strictly regulated—horses die at a rate of 0.8 to 0.9 per 1,000 starts. In Victoria, Australia, the risk of fatality drops even further to 0.44 per 1,000 starts.
Running on dirt tracks is rough on every joint in a horse's body. It causes their leg bones, knees, and ankles to sustain significant trauma, but regardless of their injuries, these animals are often still forced to race when they should be recovering. They are pumped full of drugs that are used to mask the pain, which can lead to tragic, and oftentimes deadly, breakdowns on race tracks.
In California, where dirt tracks have been replaced by synthetic surfaces, the number of horses suffering catastrophic injuries during races has plummeted 40 percent.
So our question to the Jockey Club and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is: What are you waiting for? Let's get busy adopting PETA's recommendations to make tracks safer already, shall we?
In a landmark move, the jockeys at the Penn National Race Course voted last week to refuse to ride in any races in which horses owned by Michael Gill would be running. Jockeys only get paid when they win, place, or show in races, so giving up a job is a serious move. The vote came after a horse owned by Gill, one of the horse-racing industry's most prominent horse owners, collapsed 20 yards past the finish line at Penn National and had to be euthanized. Gill has a long history of animal fatalities, and this was the breaking point for the jockeys, who in the last 13 months alone saw 10 of Gill's horses be euthanized after suffering injuries during races. At long last, Penn National has finally asked the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission to investigate the fatal breakdowns of Gill's horses. And just this week, Michael Gill announced that he is quitting the business because of the boycott and the investigation. Good riddance.
While Gill's case might seem extraordinary, the problems within the industry are systemic. Every year, more than 1,000 thoroughbreds die on tracks in the U.S., and this death toll does not include those injured horses who are euthanized away from the track or the 15,000 thoroughbreds who are sent to slaughter in Canada and Mexico every year.
Part of the problem is that injured and sore horses are pumped up with medications and painkillers to keep them running when they should be resting. Racing these horses just to squeeze out a paycheck leads to breakdowns and death. Because many veterinarians in the horse-racing industry are complicit in these practices, PETA is calling on the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine to investigate the vets at Penn National—especially those used by Gill.
It goes without saying that you should shun all horse races and urge the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to enforce breeding limits. As evidenced by the case of Michael Gill—who is only a single person in a huge industry—this is a matter of life and death.
Written by Logan Scherer
What's more important to the racing industry: horses or money?
If you thought horses, we've found two recent news stories that will change your mind.
Consider this: Thanks to a lawsuit involving the co-owners of former Kentucky Derby favorite I Want Revenge, it's become even clearer how often horses used in the racing industry are dangerously overmedicated. Horses are given anti-inflammatory steroids and painkillers to keep them running even after they've been injured—and of 20 trainers interviewed by The New York Times, only three were willing to turn over their veterinary records.
The New York Times also reports, "[T]here is a consensus among equine researchers and surgeons that legal medications and cortisone shots, over time, leave a horse vulnerable to a catastrophic breakdown."
In other words, even the legal drugs that the racing industry pumps into horses make horrific incidents like the one at last year's Kentucky Derby more likely. This is what PETA has been saying since Eight Belles crashed to the track with two broken ankles in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
Meanwhile, ESPN reports that the owners of Lava Man—a famous horse forced to "retire" early because of injuries—are trying to squeeze a few more bucks out of the old fella by bringing him back onto the track. According to ESPN, because of his previous injuries, Lava Man is at great risk of suffering a catastrophic breakdown on the track and says that while "[n]ot a single national media outlet will cover Lava Man's comeback race," "every single one would cover a disastrous outcome. … Pick your letters: ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, or, worse yet, PETA."
Time after time, the racing industry risks animals' lives for an extra dollar. Forget the finish line—it's all about the bottom line.
Written by Amanda Schinke
I don't know much Italian, besides this, but even I can figure out that "Vadis al Maximo" means "something something maximum." After reading about the historical society's push to revive chariot races at the crumbling Circus Maximus in Rome, I'm thinking that the translation is "Horse Abuses Maximum."
Fortunately for us (and horses), Rome's chariot races will remain safely tucked away in the annals of history. PETA U.K. fired off an urgent plea to Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno to nix the notion, explaining that chariot races are stressful to horses and place the animals and spectators at risk. City official Umberto Croppi promptly responded, "I can reassure you by saying that … the city of Rome will not allow the holding of similar events."
We're trying to eliminate abuses in the U.S. horse-racing industry, including whippings, drugging, and slaughter. So a molto "Thanks!" to Rome's mayor for giving Italian stallions a break.
I thought that getting Tom Cruise to squirm uncomfortably during the premiere of The Jay Leno Show would be the program's most misguided attempt at "fun." Wrong.
Apparently, Jay Leno's stint as a teenage employee under the Golden Arches got execs at NBC and McDonald's thinking that the talk show host should feature a month-long promo for the fast-food giant on his new program.
With the news that McCruelty is slated for some prime-time exposure, out came PETA's "chickens." They greeted audiences lining up for yesterday's taping of The Jay Leno Show with news that McDonald's refuses to adopt an improved slaughter method called "controlled-atmosphere killing" (CAK). McDonald's American suppliers still use an archaic killing method that causes countless birds to suffer broken wings and broken legs, have their throats cut while they're still conscious, and be scalded to death. Even McDonald's own advisers agree that the company should eliminate the worst abuses by switching to CAK, which is already used by McDonald's European suppliers.
Ever the optimists, we're crossing our fingers in the hope that Mr. Leno will use his influence to convince McDonald's to help billions of birds.
Stay tuned for updates.
Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on this Win It Wednesday. The winner of the emergency kit is Zachary Locke. Congratulations!
My rescued beagle, Lulu, RIP, was determined to devour every piece of chocolate she laid her big baby browns on. I once foolishly thought that a huge dark chocolate bar I'd put in a file cabinet at the office was safe from discovery. Wrong. No opposable thumb? No problem. Somehow she still managed to push the small latch to the side while simultaneously opening the drawer.
After that incident—which involved a visit to the emergency vet—the chocolate went into the fridge, and the baster, hydrogen peroxide, and activated charcoal went into the bathroom cabinet, just in case.
The prize for this week's "Win It" Wednesday contest is sure to come in handy for emergency situations like Lulu's. It's this handy and stylish emergency kit for your pooch:
How do you win it? Post a comment to share the preventative action(s) you use to keep your dog safe. We've got one kit to give away, and the person who provides the most thorough plan of action wins.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.