Written by PETA
A skeletal downed horse who was too weak and sick even to move to get a drink of water was left to suffer under the scorching Midwestern sun for days until PETA received a call from a concerned witness. We called local officials, who quickly dispatched officers to the scene. Appalled by the horse's obvious severe suffering, they quickly and humanely put her out of her misery. But she was not the only horse in trouble.
Four other wretchedly thin horses were surrendered to authorities, and PETA was able to locate a boarding and rescue facility that agreed to transport all four horses, board them, and arrange for much-needed veterinary care while we worked with our contacts in the area to find permanent placement for them. The rescue group adopted one of the horses, and a reputable animal shelter in Oklahoma was able to place the other three. It must have taken months of neglect and privation for the horses to become as thin and sick as this—but with proper care, they have all gained weight and their health is improving. Encouraged by PETA, officials are now considering pressing charges against the horses' owners for cruelty to animals.
Thanks to one quick-thinking individual's phone call, one horse was spared from further agony and four horses were saved from enduring the same misery as their fallen comrade. If you ever see an animal who appears to be suffering, please, be that one person who picks up the phone.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
After receiving whistleblower reports that at least two horses have died from heat stress at Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Ill., PETA called on racetracks in the U.S. and Canada to suspend racing until the intense heat wave breaks. Six tracks—including New York's Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack, Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Pennsylvania's Presque Isle Downs, Colonial Downs in Virginia, and Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack—all suspended races out of concern for animal welfare. Iowa's Prairie Meadows Racetrack had suspended races on Tuesday.
As if being goaded to run at breakneck speeds on a "regular" summer day isn't dangerous enough, horses are still being forced to run despite record-breaking high temperatures and debilitating humidity. Every summer horses suffer heat stroke, heart attacks, and exhaustion during the racing season.
While PETA is working toward the day when no horses will be run to death, raced too young, given performance-enhancing drugs, suffer broken legs, and more … for now, please join us in asking The Jockey Club to at least provide for a safe, comfortable retirement for broken-down and worn-out thoroughbreds.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
An outbreak of a deadly equine herpes virus has corralled rodeos and other events throughout the Southwest—including the Davis County Sheriff's Mounted Posse Junior Queen Contest, which didn't let the outbreak send its competition out to pasture. Instead, the aspiring rodeo queens put on their Sunday best ten-gallon hats and competed with … wait for it … stick horses.
Stick horses! Why didn't we think of that? The benefits of using stick horses instead of horses made of flesh and blood are almost too many to count. And if stick horses break, they can be fixed with glue—instead of being sent to the glue factory.
Being hauled in trailers from one rodeo to the next can leave horses exhausted and susceptible to illness, and horses used in barrel-racing and bucking events can suffer life-threatening injuries—including broken legs, necks, and backs—which is why we would like to modestly propose that all rodeos switch to stick steeds. Wouldn't you much rather see a cowboy trying to cling to a bucking birch or loop a lasso around a larch?
If you live in an area where rodeos are held, contact PETA for help organizing a protest.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Earlier this week, we asked you to urge the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to terminate harness racer Christopher Lefebvre's license to race in the state because of his deplorable track record—he has a criminal conviction for cruelty to animals in Maine, among other charges. Thanks to all of you who responded to our action alert, the board has now done just that!
Like their cousins who are used in thoroughbred racing, many horses who are used in harness racing are treated as if they were equipment, and most "losers" are sent to slaughter.
Thanks to everyone who took action, and hats off to the CHRB for doing the right thing!
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
PETA Files readers already know that few "retired" racehorses live out the remainder of their days frolicking in rolling green pastures. Now, Washington Post readers know it, too, thanks to a great article that was published over Memorial Day weekend.
The article describes one of the many ugly sides of the horse-racing industry—the fact that with approximately 35,000 thoroughbreds born in the U.S. every year, there are thousands of horses who don't have quite enough speed and stamina to be champions. What becomes of these also-rans? Most are eventually sold at auction, where many are bought by "killer buyers."
While no horse slaughterhouses are currently operating in the U.S., horses are still being shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Some retired racehorses—even Derby champs like Ferdinand and Charismatic—also wind up in Japan, where they may initially be used for breeding. But when they stop being moneymakers, they, too, may be slaughtered, as a PETA investigation at a Japanese slaughterhouse last year revealed.
You can help by contacting your U.S. representatives and asking them to sponsor the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which would make it illegal to slaughter horses for consumption in the U.S. or to export them for slaughter.
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.
On April 14, the New York City Council passed a cunning little bill (Intro. 35) that gives horse-drawn carriage drivers a rate hike. As we pointed out at the time of passage, this bill does very little to improve these long-suffering horses' living and working conditions. The City Council failed to incorporate most of the suggestions made by the ASPCA, including such basic elements as requiring that horses have year-round access to drinking water. Because of lack of enforcement, it's unlikely that the horses will ever even see the few benefits—such as the 5-week resting period—that have been promised them.
Because of the horse-drawn carriage industry's track record of unethical business practices and disregard for horses' welfare, the only solution is to get these horses off the streets and retire them to live out their remaining years in peace. Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito has introduced a bill (Intro. 86) that would phase out the industry and replace it with electric-powered antique cars or "green" horseless carriages.
Please, if you live in New York City or know anyone who does (such as friends of friends or anyone who cares about animals) simply make one call and let the City Council know that the only acceptable solution is to end this industry altogether by supporting and passing Intro. 86. Horses would thank you if they could.
Well, it's not the law of our dreams, but we're happy to report that one part of a bill that has just been passed in New York City (and maybe just the one part) should improve living conditions for horses who are used to pull carriages. Under the new legislation, carriage operators are required to provide horses with larger stalls in which they can finally turn around and lie down (the current stalls couldn't be smaller unless you built them through the horses' flanks) as well as to allow the horses to come off the roads and spend five weeks out of every year at a stable with a paddock or a pasture.
A hike in fares has also been enacted. It probably won't make a difference, but it might decrease the number of misguided tourists who want to take horses for a ride. After all, it's the animals who pay the ultimate price in this money-hungry industry: Horses are forced to pull heavy loads in all weather extremes while walking on hard pavement, dodging loud traffic, and inhaling exhaust fumes that cause damage to their lungs comparable to that which heavy smokers experience. Does that sound even remotely romantic to you?
Anyone who has seen or thought about this wretched excuse for amusement knows that it's past time for the horse-drawn carriage industry to be put out to pasture permanently. Tel Aviv has done it, and now it's time for New York to do it. Please join us in asking New York City officials to ban horse-drawn carriages as a blight on the city. Thanks!
Written by Amy Skylark Elizabeth
A couple celebrating their wedding anniversary in New Bern, North Carolina, got stuck with the memory of a lifetime when the horse-drawn carriage in which they were riding was struck by a car, sending them and the carriage driver to the hospital. (Needless to say: open carriage, no seat belts, no air bags.) The horse, Suzi, was also injured.
Horses like Suzi have a bad life, trying to dodge traffic—but traffic doesn't always dodge them. This couple may now have a cautionary tale to tell their grandkids, but for Suzi and other horses who are forced to bear the weight of carriages and tourists in traffic day and night in all weather extremes, carriage rides are a hard trip down memory lane. New Bern needs to join cities around the world that have put these rides out to pasture for good.
Send a polite note to New Bern Mayor Lee Bettis Jr. asking him to ban horse-drawn carriages.
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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.