Written by PETA
It seems that people are getting wise to how the horse-racing industry causes horses to suffer and die, and they're staying away from the tracks in droves. The most recent casualty is Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course. Pimlico's owners have gone bankrupt, and it now appears that the state may take possession of the track.
With the death of the racing industry looming, we're asking Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley for his help in turning Pimlico into a horse empathy park. Pimlico should serve as a memorial for the thousands of horses who have died in pursuit of "the roses" (such as Barbaro, who died following his excruciating injury during the Preakness, held at—guess where?—Pimlico). The notorious racetrack can become a center where people can experience what it's like to be a "champion."
If Governor O'Malley comes through, visitors could tour educational displays about horses, see exhibits of painful bits and spurs, and even experience blinkers, whipping, and the "fun" of racing around a track with a heavy weight on their back. If it helps shut down more racetracks, I can't think of a better way to spend a vacation!
Written by Jeff Mackey
Full disclosure: I am a sucker for horses. Just watching them run makes me cry. Seriously, it does. That video clip that was shown in Amélie, in which an excited horse leaps over a pasture fence and joins passing Tour de France cyclists? I cry just thinking about it—shoot, I'm crying right now!
So you can imagine my reaction to the news that Thoroughbred breeder and owner Ernie Paragallo has been charged with cruelty to animals after 177 horses were allegedly found starving, suffering from skin infections and untreated injuries, and crawling with lice and worms on his New York state farm. The raid on the farm came shortly after news leaked out that four mares who formerly belonged to Paragallo had been rescued from a "kill pen," bound for the slaughterhouse. PETA called for his prosecution soon after this hit the news.
This isn't the first time that Paragallo has run into trouble. In 2007, three starving horses were rescued from his farm and spent a month recovering at an equine hospital. In 2005, his owner's license was revoked over his failure to pay a vet bill.
In my opinion, hangin's too good for Paragallo. This man has raked in more than $20 million in winnings over the years—and he can't spend even a fraction of that wealth on care for the horses who earned it for him?
Fortunately, the cruelty charges, coupled with the slaughterhouse boondoggle, seem to have been enough to convince the New York State Racing Commission to bar Paragallo from the state's tracks. This means that Paragallo will almost certainly be unable to enter a horse in the state's "big show"—the Belmont Stakes—in June.
Boo-hoo. (That's sarcasm—I'm not really crying this time.)
Written by Alisa Mullins
If you aim a wind-up toy at a brick wall, logic would tell you that the toy is going to continue slamming into the wall unless the wall is removed, right?
Well, as long as the horse-racing industry exists, tragedy is going to follow. Case in point: Two more horses at the Aqueduct Race Track had to be euthanized last week after suffering broken legs on the track. One of the breakdowns was so catastrophic that five horses slammed to the ground. You can watch footage of the race below.
One would think that the horse-racing industry would at least make some changes to protect these horses better, such as mandating turf track, which is softer than either dirt or synthetic tracks. Instead, as The New York Daily News reports, the industry simply tries to cover up fatal falls. When questioned about its decision not to show footage of the fall that brought down five horses, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) claimed that it didn't want the footage to get into the wrong hands, meaning animal rights groups. Oops! Looks like that didn't work out so well, did it?
My favorite quote about the decision not to air the footage comes from a NYRA spokesperson, who said: "It was a judgment call on a particularly scary-looking spill."
Exactly. Don't want to scare off those railbirds and their lucrative bets, do we? As if the tragic deaths of Eight Belles last year and Barbaro in 2006 haven't already given race fans enough to think about.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
On behalf of thoroughbreds everywhere, a congressional hearing was held today to discuss horseracing—just weeks after PETA and tens of thousands of our members and supporters called for it. You can get a pretty cool play-by-play of the meeting here, but basically, the primary message was that the drugs are the problem—not just steroids but all drugs. Person after person said in testimony that if you get rid of the drugs, you get rid of a lot of problems in racing because horses who don't have the strength to run won't run and then won't be bred. What we need is a zero-tolerance policy!
The hearing was full of moving testimony, including comments from a woman who runs CANTER, a thoroughbred rescue. She gets the horses who have been on all kinds of drugs their whole lives and said that when they go off drugs, they go through withdrawal periods that include hair loss, weight loss, and depression. One of my favorite quotes from the afternoon came from Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who said, "Greed has trumped the health of horses." One person who was not so surprisingly absent was Big Brown's trainer, Richard Dutrow. Given his rap sheet of drug infractions, I can't say I was terribly surprised.
There will be at least one more hearing, possibly looking to consider legislation to appoint a federal racing commissioner so that all laws pertaining to racing will be uniform. The congressional committee also voted to admit PETA's written testimony—which you can read here—into record.
You can respond to our latest horseracing action alert to let Congress know that you care about Eight Belles and all the less famous horses who face death on the track and get your voice heard! These hearings are a wonderful step in the right direction, and we need to continue pushing for progress.
Posted by Christine Dore
Following Eight Belles’ breakdown and euthanasia at the Kentucky Derby on May 3, PETA called for congressional hearings into the abuses of the horse racing industry and we urged immediate improvements. Visitors to peta.org sent thousands of emails to congress backing our call for hearings. I'm thrilled to say that after only 3 weeks of action on our part and your part as activists, it’s been announced that hearings will, in fact, be held.
To everyone who took action: THANK YOU! Because of strong activists like you we are able to make strides in important campaigns such as this one. You can read more about this here.
We will now be focusing our energy on the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection by asking them to focus on the cruelest practices of racing: legal and illegal drug use, track surfaces, whipping, racing horses too young and too often, and discarding “used up” thoroughbreds to slaughter. You can take action by sending an e-mail to subcommittee chair Bobby Rush by using this contact form.
Thanks again for speaking up and I hope these congressional hearings really shine some much needed light on the horse racing industry. These improvements are a matter of life and death for horses.
For years now, the horse racing industry has systematically ignored efforts by the animal protection community and its own disgusted insiders, including some veterinarians who aren’t afraid where their bread is “buttered,” to make life more tolerable for the horses it profits from. Given this weekend’s horror at the Kentucky Derby, we’re hoping that the members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority and others within the industry will now be forced to take these issues seriously. If they don’t care about the suffering of these animals, perhaps their PR people will give them a reason to care.
This morning, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk sent a letter to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority proposing changes in the rules that would result in a drastic reduction of the types of injuries that claimed the life of Eight Belles in the running of the Kentucky Derby. The maudlin expressions of regret and sadness over the Eight Belles incident that we’re hearing from people within the industry are ringing pretty hollow right now. If they genuinely want to do something to try and prevent incidents like this in the future, they can start with the following:
You can read PETA’s letter here. I’ll keep you posted.
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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.