Ayotte, Warner reintroduce legislation in Senate to prevent horse soring
U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) today reintroduced legislation to protect horses from the abusive practice known as soring – in which show horse trainers apply blistering or burning agents, lacerations, sharp objects, or other substances or devices to a horse’s limb to intentionally make each step painful, forcing a horse to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait that is rewarded in show rings.
Sens. Ayotte and Warner originally introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act in July 2013 to prevent soring, an inhumane training practice that continues despite being prohibited under federal law.
Joining Senators Ayotte and Warner as cosponsors of this legislation are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and David Vitter (R-LA).
In 2010, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General conducted an audit of the federal Horse Protection Program, which found that show horse trainers often go to great lengths to evade federal law prohibiting soring and requiring them to train horses using humane methods. The USDA Inspector General made several recommendations, including establishing stiffer penalties and abolishing the self-policing practices currently allowed under existing regulations, in which Horse Industry Organizations are able to assign their own inspectors to monitor horse shows.
“Whether riding, racing, hunting or training, horses have been a part of Virginia’s culture for 400 years,” said Sen. Warner. “However, owners and breeders from across the Commonwealth agree that the deliberate act of inflicting pain on horses has no place in modern equestrian competition. Senator Ayotte and I are proud to reintroduce the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act to give USDA the tools it needs to crack down on horse soring and end this cruel practice once and for all.”
“Soring is inhumane, and this bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward stopping this abusive training tactic that intentionally inflicts pain on horses,” said Sen. Ayotte. “I will continue to work across the aisle to protect horses from this cruel practice.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAST ACT:
· Eliminates self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management indicates its intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
· Prohibits the use of action devices and pads on horse breeds that have been the victims of soring. Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse’s pain when it moves, so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
· Increases the penalties on an individual caught soring a horse from a misdemeanor to a felony subject to up to three years’ incarceration, increases fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and for a third violation allows permanent disqualification from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.
· Numerous groups have endorsed the bill, including the Humane Society of the United States, the American Horse Council, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.