House members have once again introduced a bill that will do nothing to improve the welfare of America’s walking horses. The AVMA urges Congress to say “neigh” to the Horse Protection Amendments Act (H.R. 4105), which would allow the abusive practice of soring to continue.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) introduced the bill, along with eight other co-sponsors, on Nov. 19. This bill is identical to the Senate version, S. 1161, introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on April 30. Both bills have been introduced in opposition to the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 3268/S. 1121), which the AVMA, along with every state veterinary medical association and many other animal welfare organizations, has strongly supported for several Congresses.
Soring is the act of deliberately causing pain—through chemical or physical means—to a horse’s legs to exaggerate its gait, achieving the often prized “big lick” in walking horse shows. The AVMA has actively pushed Congress to ban this inhumane practice by passing the PAST Act. The PAST Act would do a number of things to improve the welfare of America’s walking horses, including finally prohibiting the act of soring itself, establishing a new system for inspecting horses for soring, revising penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act, and modifying enforcement procedures to ensure the safety and welfare of horses.
Unlike the PAST Act, DesJarlais’s bill retains the horse industry self-policing structure that has repeatedly failed to resolve soring since its establishment more than 40 years ago. This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in an industry riddled with abuse. DesJarlais’s bill does nothing to improve the penalty structure for violations of the Horse Protection Act and also fails to prohibit the action devices and performance packages that are used to hide and worsen the effects of soring.
The AVMA has taken a position of “active pursuit of defeat” on the Senate and House versions of the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2015. Tell Congress that bills like this will not improve the lives of America’s walking horses. Help us advocate on behalf of you and your patients. Tell your representatives that Congress needs to pass the PAST Act now!