PETA Warned Grants Pass—Horse Dies After Racing in Deadly Heat

Published by Zachary Toliver.

In the face of scorching-heat advisories, PETA warned Grants Pass Downs to suspend all races. Officials ignored our calls—now, two horses are dead.

PETA is demanding an investigation, since it appears that at least one of the deaths could have been heat-related.

On June 23, after the fourth race of the opening day, 4-year-old Thoroughbred Hellagood collapsed on his way back to the stables. Temperatures that day soared to 101 degrees.

A day later, 3-year-old Hawks Main Interest broke his front leg after coming into contact with another horse. He was euthanized shortly afterwards.

PETA had sent an urgent letter the day before the first race calling on Grants Pass Downs stewards to suspend all races on June 23—and during every subsequent heat advisory this summer and beyond. The National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory for Grants Pass for that day.

Horses are pushed to the limit every time they race, and the additional stress of skyrocketing temperatures can cause brain damage, heatstroke, and death.

We had called on Grants Pass Downs officials to prevent tragedy by suspending racing whenever Oregon faces extreme heat. In the worst way, it looks like we were right. Officials put profits ahead of safety.

There is ample precedent nationwide for suspension of races because of heat. Last year, at PETA’s request, the $1 million Haskell Invitational was postponed for several hours when a 95-degree midday temperature was predicted.

Horses can learn symbols and use them to communicate desires, and they get visibly excited by their newfound skills. They feel joy, pain, fear, and all the other emotions that we do. In no world would these complex individuals choose to run themselves to death for human entertainment.

Right now, countless horses across the U.S. are suffering. They need your help.

An average of three horses die in racing every day, and extreme heat can easily add to this death toll. These majestic animals are forced to pull heavy carriages full of passengers through busy traffic in extreme weather conditions, and thousands are even shipped to foreign countries to be slaughtered for food every year. Click on the button below to complete multiple PETA action alerts to help them.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind