Written by Alisa Mullins
Some might consider Rachel Alexandra lucky. In 2009, she
became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness Stakes. The next year,
she was retired from the dangers of the track and training to live as a
broodmare—a female horse used
for breeding—on a farm in Kentucky. But motherhood isn't coming easily
to her. After the birth of her first foal, Jess's Dream, last year, Rachel
Alexandra experienced pain so severe that she had to be hospitalized. The birth
of her second foal last month was even more hazardous: She sustained life-threatening injuries
and had to have emergency surgery to remove parts of her large intestines, and
she just had another
surgery this week to treat an abscess. That is why PETA has written
to Rachel Alexandra's owner, Barbara Banke, urging her to retire the mare from
breeding before pregnancy or foaling kills her.
L.Burchfield | cc by 2.0
Many prize-winning horses—including Lady's Secret, Meadow
Star, Typhoon Tracy, and Urban Sea—have died after giving birth. Rachel
Alexandra's own mother, Lotta Kim, has a history of foaling complications: One
of her foals was born prematurely and died, and another died at just 2 years of
age because of wobbler syndrome. Lotta Kim rejected Rachel Alexandra, who then
had to be raised by a nurse mare. Nurse mares, who are used to produce milk for
orphaned foals and those whose mothers are being rebred, are routinely forced
into a cycle of serial breeding, only to have their own babies torn away from
Tens of thousands of
thoroughbreds are bred each year, often in assembly-line conditions like those documented by a PETA undercover investigator. Only a fraction of the
25,000 thoroughbred foals born every year will be winners, resulting in a "surplus"
of about 20,000 unwanted thoroughbreds annually. Many of these horses, which
can even include former
Triple Crown race champions like
Rachel Alexandra—and their offspring—are sold at auction and wind up in the
hands of "kill buyers" who ship them to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
Surely, after earning more than $3 million for her owners,
Rachel Alexandra has earned the right to a peaceful, leisurely retirement that
is free of repeated pregnancies and dangerous foalings.
Written by PETA
Coming Home, the
sweet little thoroughbred who, discarded by the racing industry, wound up in
the hands of a kill buyer?
She was on her way to a slaughterhouse in Canada when PETA, working undercover
at an auction house where hundreds of horses are sold every week, stepped in.
Today, she lives on a luxurious ranch in New Mexico—and even though she never
won a race, in the eyes of her adoring human companions, she's a champion. She
even has a new name to fit her new position in life: Little Winner.
WLKY TV in Kentucky recently visited Little Winner, who pranced in
her spacious new quarters, as secure and happy today as she was world-weary in
May. Another horse, Georgia's Boy, is profiled in a second installment of the news story.
The great grandson of Triple Crown Winner Secretariat, Georgia's Boy's lineage
didn't prevent his owner from abandoning him to slaughter. Thousands of
thoroughbreds meet the same fate every year. We're working hard to end that,
and by clicking here, you
can join our efforts.
Every horse deserves to be a Little Winner.
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?
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.
Apparently he wasn't content with going all "crocodile hunter" on an anaconda, as he did during the last off-season. Now Texas Rangers infielder Omar Vizquel has expressed the desire to take up bullfighting in his home country of Venezuela during this year's off-season. He has also said that he hopes to attend all the Triple Crown horse races after he retires.
Is there no animal safe from Omar's down time?
Upon hearing about Omar's ghoulish vacation plans, we dashed off a letter to the aging shortstop asking him to solve his midlife crisis in a way that doesn't involve torturing and killing animals.
Buy a convertible, go skydiving, date a woman half your age—just don't drag animals into it, OK, Omar?
Here is a story that answers the question, "What's wrong with supporting 'free-range' farms?"
PETA caseworkers recently worked on a case in New Mexico involving a mother cow who suffered for days after she became stuck in the mud around a watering hole.
The cow was part of a small cattle herd living on a ranch. There was no caretaker residing on the property to watch over the animals. The cow was pregnant when she became stuck in the mud, and she was forced to give birth while she was trapped. Her newborn calf became stuck as well.
PETA contacted local authorities as soon as we were alerted to this cow's plight, but the officials refused to help the cow until they could locate the owners. The decomposing bodies and bones of other cattle around this watering hole were evidence that this was not the first time that the negligent owners had left animals to die. The owners reportedly rent the property as a place to "store" their cattle, and they don't make regular visits to care for them.
Luckily, a concerned individual in the region was able to free the calf from the mud and tend to his suffering mother—who was languishing in the blazing sun and was only able to move her head—while we continued to try to find her the help she needed.
Our calls to state and local authorities finally resulted in action, and the inspectors who were sent out to the farm were quickly able to euthanize the suffering animal.
This is not an isolated case. Animals on farms all over the country face starvation, disease, and exposure to all weather extremes. Farmers often consider these animals to be as disposable as light bulbs. It's not always profitable to monitor and provide specialized care for individual members of herds, and this can result in agonizing and lonely deaths for many animals.
Fortunately, this mother cow and her calf were spared such a fate thanks to the kindness of a caring citizen and PETA's intervention. Please, don't support an industry that treats animals as nothing more than parts on a cheap-meat (dis)assembly line.
Written by Heather Drennan
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.
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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.