PETA Warns That High Temperatures Put Horses at Risk of Brain Damage, Heatstroke, and Fatal Cardiac Trauma
For Immediate Release:
August 7, 2020
David Perle 202-483-7382
Dallas – With temperatures expected to reach at least 97 degrees and the heat index forecast to be even higher on Sunday afternoon when races are scheduled to run, PETA sent an urgent letter this morning calling on Lone Star Park stewards to suspend all races on August 9—and every subsequent day with high temperatures.
“Horses are pushed to the limit every time they race, and the additional stress of skyrocketing temperatures can cause brain damage, collapse as a result of heatstroke, and fatal cardiac trauma,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on Lone Star Park officials to prevent tragedy by suspending racing tomorrow and whenever Texas faces extreme heat.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to the Lone Star Park stewards follows.
August 7, 2020
Re High Temperatures at Lone Star Park
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and its more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide to urge you to protect horses by suspending racing at Lone Star Park during the current high temperatures.
Temperatures are expected to reach at least 97 degrees and the heat index is forecast to be even higher in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Sunday afternoon when races are scheduled to run. Horses are pushed to the limit every time they race, and the additional stress of skyrocketing temperatures can cause brain damage, collapse as a result of heatstroke, and fatal cardiac trauma. Extra caution should be taken if horses are racing on Lasix, a diuretic, which can cause dehydration and compounds the risks of racing in extreme heat. There are many examples of horses experiencing breakdowns or collapsing because of heat, including Merciless Cat, who experienced a catastrophic breakdown after his aorta burst when the temperature at the track was over 100 degrees—footage is available here (2:25).
To protect the health of horses and jockeys, tracks across the country have previously postponed races when high temperatures or heat indexes were expected, including last summer when Monmouth Park made the responsible decision to postpone the starting time of the Haskell Invitational. Many other tracks, including Saratoga, Woodbine, Belterra Park, Ellis Park, Laurel Park, and Parx Racing, have canceled races when dangerous temperatures were forecast.
An average of three horses die in racing every day, and extreme heat can easily add to this death toll. By suspending racing until temperatures cool, racetracks can help forestall further heat-related deaths. Please take immediate action to protect horses in Texas.
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Senior Vice President
Equine Matters Department