Written by PETA
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In California, where dirt tracks have been replaced by synthetic surfaces, the number of horses suffering catastrophic injuries during races has plummeted 40 percent.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?
Written by Alisa Mullins
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
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to the picture of these horses, I'm still at a loss—this photo is worth a thousand chills:
When I was a child, I had a recurring nightmare that I was covered head-to-toe with needles that paralyzed me. I had no way of taking them out; I was helpless. But of course, I'd wake up, and it would all be over—it was only a twisted creation of my subconscious.
For the horses in the photo, however, my haunting nightmare was their reality. Covered in thick clusters of hard, prickly burrs, the horses endured constant discomfort, yet their neglectful owner continued to let the burrs accumulate in the horses' manes and tails for months.
After noticing the matted mess these horses had become, a concerned neighbor contacted PETA. We immediately got in touch with animal control, which had initially failed to respond to these concerns when our complainant first called for help. However, the agency was inspired by PETA caseworkers to force the owner to groom the horses immediately, and better yet, the horses were moved from the burr-infested property into a safer environment.
It is crucial that guardians have a comprehensive understanding of the care required to provide horses with a happy, healthy existence. Burrs, pebbles, and debris often cause debilitating bruises or thrush, a painful bacterial infection, which is why horses must be routinely cleaned and checked for markings. If you see or know of any animal who is not receiving proper care, please report it to your local law enforcement—the animal's life may depend on your speaking up.
Written by Logan Scherer
Having been put out to pasture by the producers of Jon & Kate Plus 8, Jon Gosselin was recently spotted taking his new lady friend out for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
Doggie abandonment (and his lady friend's questionable vest) aside, we're still willing to give Jon the benefit of a doubt, so we've sent him a letter educating him on the not-quite-fairy-tale horse-drawn carriage trade and asking him to make cruelty-free choices for his future dates.
Too bad he no longer has any use for these excellent date ideas …
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.
Written by Karin Bennett
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.
In case you forgot how smart, social, and absolutely adorable pigs are, meet Sherlock. Found wandering down a rural road in Suffolk, Virginia, this little guy was captured and taken to the local animal shelter:
When he was found, Sherlock was still a baby, but he was already castrated and his tail had obviously been docked. That means that this plucky little piglet likely fell off a truck headed to a growing/finishing barn—which is what the piggy flesh industry calls the factories that are used to fatten up little pigs like Sherlock for slaughter. On factory farms, piglets are taken away from their moms when they are less than 1 month old. Workers cut off their tails, clip their teeth with pliers, and castrate the males—all without painkillers. The animals spend their entire lives in extremely crowded pens on tiny slabs of filthy concrete. It gets even more heartbreaking when you factor in the abuse that these animals face: A recent undercover investigation of an Iowa pig factory farm, which supplies piglets to Hormel, documented that workers beat pigs with metal rods and sexually abused them with canes.
When one of our fieldworkers saw the headline about Sherlock in the Suffolk paper, she immediately went to work to find this guy a wonderful home. Click here to see how Sherlock's story ends!
Written by Amy Elizabeth
Several years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to tackle the issue of determining the safety of nanomaterials—teeny-tiny particles that measure less than one-tenth of a micrometer (even smaller than the brain of the average Michael Vick fan) As soon as we learned about this initiative, our staff scientists began communicating with the EPA, urging the agency to use the most modern and sophisticated testing methods instead of automatically relying on archaic animal tests, as government agencies historically have, basically for no better reason than "we've always done it that way."
Last week, our scientists' hard work paid off: The EPA issued its final "Nanomaterials Research Strategy," and it incorporates many of PETA's recommendations. While the original draft still relied heavily on animal tests, the final plan takes full advantage of non-animal test methods. This will greatly reduce the number of animals killed in tests assessing the toxicity of nanomaterials.
Just as important, the research strategy reiterates the principles outlined in the strategic plan the EPA released this spring, which calls for identifying and using non-animal testing methods that will ultimately replace all animal tests for nanomaterials.
This is a win-win for PETA, animals, and the EPA. Oh, and the public wins, too, because reducing the use of animals in assessing the toxicity of nanomaterials also improves the agency's ability to assess hazards to humans.
The deaths of three horses in two days of jumps racing at the Warrnambool Carnival in Victoria, Australia, has shocked so many Australians that jumps racing has been suspended indefinitely and may be banned in Victoria (it's already banned in all states and territories in Oz except Victoria and South Australia).
Supporters of Australian jumps racing, including racing minister Rob Hulls and Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines, are of course claiming to be concerned about safety. Warrnambool Racing Club's Andrew Pomeroy chimed in that the club had done "all it could" to make the course safe.
Apparently, "all it could" wasn't quite enough for Pride of Westbury, who crashed in front of the grandstand and suffered a broken neck; 8-year-old Hassle, who shattered a leg bone; or 9-year-old Clearview Bay, who also broke his neck when he fell after a jump.
We say go ahead and ban jumps racing, and then make its mouthpieces run several miles and hurl themselves over a few dozen hedges and fences in the horses' place. Now I'd pay money to see that!
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
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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.