Last March 5 was a crucial date for all us trying to get rid of soring once and for all. The Senate Commerce Committee was scheduled to consider the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (S. 1406). If approved, the act would have gone to the Senate for consideration where fifty senators have co-sponsored Kelly Ayotte’s bill. No resumption date has been posted.
Marsha Blackburn represents the notorious area of Tennessee in which many sorers ply their trade. (Although this is a side issue, Tennessee is well-known as a state where soring takes place. TN is known for many things, beautiful scenery, friendly people, fine whiskey. But torturing horses should not be one of the state’s claims to fame. Sometimes I feel that Tennesseans don’t realize the state’s bad reputation in the universal horse world.) On the basis of Blackburn’s voting record, one can see that she will never come out in favor of strong measures to wipe out the immoral and cruel practice of soring. Faced with the possibility of losing voters, even if they sore horses, she has come up with a bill opposing S. 1406 (HR 4098.) Please read the short summary of each bill below and make up your mind who is on the side of the suffering horses.
First, the PAST bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. It has the backing of many animal protection advocates.
1. Amends the Horse Protection Act which with all its good intentions, has proved weak.
2. Ends the industry system of self-policing, which has proved unsuccessful and sometimes dishonest.
3. Provides for stronger penalties for what amounts to torturing horses.
4. Bans the devices used for soring.
5. Makes soring for selling or showing a horse illegal.
Now the Blackburn bill.
1. Would use science based protocols, producing scientifically reliable, reproducible results.
2. Would create a single independent inspection HIO (Horse Industry Organization) managed by industry participants.
3. Would create an Independent Board appointed by heads of State Agriculture agencies from Kentucky and Tennessee which would have the power to appoint extra independent members. This independent board would only license conflict-free and qualified inspectors.
Those who follow and understand the horrible details of what horses endure and the rotten politics of soring can see the Blackburn bill for what it is: a poorly written piece of legislation which analyzed, amounts to an attempt to preserve the dismal status quo. We already have science based protocols. .A single inspection organization with too much power to appoint members only makes the current situation worse. Just ask Friends of Sound Horses or the Humane Society for the facts about the many “upstanding citizens” of the horse community who have been found guilty of soring and come back year after year to show their poor, tortured horses. Too many of these people have even been honored by their peers. Wayne Pacelle writes that a single HIO is “essentially giving the industry ‘bad apples’ the opportunity to set the rules and manage all inspections, while eliminating those HIOs that actually insist on no soring at shows they oversee now.” He says that in Kentucky and Tennessee the enforcement of state laws is rare and soring is tolerated by some officials. And where in the Blackburn proposal does it speak about outlawing the instruments of soring? Pacelle points out more weaknesses. (www.humanesociety.org)
What can be done about this? A call or e-mail to your representatives would let them know where you stand on this issue. Put the issue in your blog and work in other social media. And Tennesseans might reconsider who to vote for in the future. By the way, Rand Paul is considering whether to support the Blackburn bill as a co-sponsor.