Cruelty and Crime at Unregulated Horse Tracks; PETA Urges Gov. Abbott to Act

For Immediate Release:
April 29, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Austin, Texas

A PETA probe has uncovered evidence that horses are electroshocked, injected with street drugs, and subjected to other acts of cruelty at the nearly 50 unregulated horse racing tracks—or “bush tracks,” at which illegal gambling and other crimes run rampant—across Texas, prompting the group to dispatch an urgent letter this morning to Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials calling for an investigation.

Photos and video from unlicensed tracks across the state reveal that some race participants openly wielded syringes while handling horses. Injecting horses with illegal drugs—including cocaine and methamphetamine—is a widespread practice at bush tracks to mask injuries and kill pain in the hopes of achieving breakneck speeds. Multiple jockeys were seen with electric shock devices—used to shock horses in the neck during races to push them beyond their limits—strapped to their wrists.

Additional incidents of egregious cruelty documented at these tracks involve horses who were whipped relentlessly and violently up to dozens of times in just seconds. A horse even caught fire at a facility in Anderson County. Texas is home to four times as many unregulated tracks as any other state.

“Rampant abuse, illegal drugs, and greed are the hallmarks of the seedy underworld of black market horse racing,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on Gov. Abbott and other state officials to crack down on this cruel and criminal conduct before many more horses are shot up, shocked, or beaten.”

PETA also sent a letter to the Texas Animal Health Commission providing evidence that race participants are illegally importing horses from other states without the required veterinary testing—which risks the spread of serious diseases, including equine infectious anemia, a highly transmissible and potentially fatal blood-borne virus that affects horses and has no vaccine or treatment.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kitsfor people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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