Thoroughbred breeder Ernie Paragallo, whose horses were discovered emaciated and infested with parasites as they awaited slaughter in a pen, should be prosecuted for cruelty to animals. Paragallo said that he had given the horses up to a Florida-based breeder and that he did not know of their final destination (the slaughterhouse), but that certainly doesn’t clear him of responsibility for the state of the mares when they were found. “There were a bunch of mares that someone didn’t care about anymore,” said Christy Sheidy, who rescued four of the horses.
Regardless of Paragallo’s guilt or innocence on the charges of cruelty to animals, this case highlights an often-overlooked part of the world of thoroughbred racing—the fate of horses who can no longer race.
The industry would like us to believe that when horses leave the world of racing they go on to live out their “retirement plan” on green pastures. Let me tell you that what’s in store for thoroughbreds is no pit stop in Palm Springs.
As this case shows, when horses are no longer useful to the racing industry, they are cast aside like trash—and more than 100,000 horses are exported from the U.S. for slaughter every year. Owners and trainers like to talk about “retirement plans,” but, in reality, burned-out and used-up horses all too often meet bloody death and dismemberment on their way to someone’s dinner plate.
The only way to make sure that the horses who can no longer “perform” well aren’t treated like garbage is to stop making them “perform” in the first place.