Deliberately inflicting pain to exaggerate the leg motion of gaited horses through the practice of “soring” is unethical and inhumane and must be stopped, an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) official told a U.S. House subcommittee today on Capitol Hill.
In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, AVMA’s Chief Executive and Executive Vice President Dr. Ron DeHaven urged Congress to pass H.R. 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which will provide the regulatory oversight necessary to protect the health and well-being of our nation’s walking horses.
“As the former administrator to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service charged with overseeing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, I have witnessed the long-lasting and damaging effects that soring has on horses and feel that this bill is necessary to stop a culture of abuse that has existed for more than 40 years in the walking horse industry,” DeHaven testified. “It is my hope that the members of the subcommittee will swiftly markup and favorably report the PAST Act, which will provide the statutory changes necessary to protect the health and welfare of our nation’s walking horses.”
Despite being illegal in shows, sales or exhibits for more than 40 years under the Horse Protection Act (HPA), the actual act of soring itself has yet to be outlawed, and the veterinary profession continues to see the irreversible mental and physical effects that soring has on Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses.
The PAST Act would amend the HPA to take many important and necessary steps to end soring, such as: making the actual act of soring illegal; overhauling the USDA’s enforcement system to remove the inherent conflicts of interest with the horse industry self-regulation; banning incentives to sore; and improving the penalty structure against violators, among other provisions.
Read more about the hearing in AVMA’s press release or in Dr. DeHaven’s full testimony. Listen to Dr. DeHaven’s opening remarks to the subcommittee. Photos from the event are available on the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network’s Facebook page. AVMA members who support the PAST Act are encouraged to write their members of Congress and urge them to pass this important legislation.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s website has links to the other witnesses’ testimonies and background materials as well as an archived video of the entire webcast.