Recently I met a person at a social event who knows a lot about the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. He is not a sorer himself, far from it. I told him I write about it, a blog and fiction. I paused, hoping he would drop some information from his privileged vantage point. But he only said one thing: there are fewer incidents of soring but the issue is now political. I soon found out what “political” meant. Readers will remember that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) used to publish inspection reports and violation notices, required by The Horse Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act. The USDA has pulled these records from its website. Readers can only imagine how useful this sad information is in bringing violators to the public’s attention and in punishing people who have broken the law. Wayne Pacelle points out that now the public cannot access these records of facilities for cosmetic testing, medical research, roadside zoos, and puppy mills. And of course, the reporting of vital information about soring violators is in the list too. Its important here to recognize that not only animal rights enthusiasts are fighting for this information to be restored to the USDA. People who have industries regulated by the group are angered by the scrubbing, saying that “it creates the impression that licensees by the Department of Agriculture have something to hide” (Dan Ashe, president and chief executive of Association of Zoos and Aquariums quoted in the Washington Post). The USDA has tried to defend its poorly thought out action but its arguments are weak. It should place all that badly needed information back in its website, aiming for complete transparency.
Thanks to Wayne Pacelle (The Humane Society) and Karin Brulliard (Washington Post)