The time is right to reform American racing, say top animal welfare advocates
Now is the time to reform American horse racing, according to the Humane Society of the United States, with strong companion bills now before the House of Representatives and Senate.
Reform efforts are now moving at full gallop, according to the society’s president and chief executive Kitty Block, and Sara Amundson, who is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
The pair, who publish the blog A Humane Nation, are backing the bills, which enjoy bipartisan support.
The bill introduced to the House is the Horseracing Integrity Act, while the bill in the Senate is the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.
They would ban race-day medications and create a racetrack safety program by establishing a uniform set of track safety standards.
They would also put in place a uniform anti-doping and medication control program for all 38 racing jurisdictions.
“These are exciting developments that we have long worked for,” they wrote.
“With an average of 8.5 horses dying at the races every week, the need for Congressional action is critical.”
Block and Amundersen say both the society and legislative fund teams have pushed relentlessly for horseracing reform, working with lawmakers and progressive industry reformers to draft and introduce the bills to clean up the sport.
“There hasn’t been a better time, or opportunity, to reform horse racing.“The sport has been plagued by high-profile scandals, including a wave of horse deaths and the indictments earlier this year of trainers and veterinarians in a doping scandal.
“These incidents have finally focused the spotlight on problems that have long flooded horse racing, drawing criticism and calls for change from within the industry.“A big part of the problem has been the lack of clear standards for medications trainers use to mask pain or enhance the performance of horses.“Racing occurs in 38 states, and unscrupulous owners and trainers can currently move racehorses from one jurisdiction to another with fewer restrictions to continue doping horses and avoid penalties.”
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act would give the job of implementing an anti-doping and medication program to the US Anti-Doping Agency, which handles drug testing for all US Olympic athletes.
It would also, among other things, establish uniform rules and sanctions for those who violate the rules, and include more oversight of racing surfaces, which are responsible for some racehorse injuries and deaths.
It will greatly improve protections for America’s racehorses, they say.
“We’ll be pushing for its passage with all of our might,” the pair wrote.
They urged supporters to write to their federal legislators. “Ask them to support the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 and get it over the finish line in coming weeks.”