AVMA chief pleads for walking horses, sparks debate
The truth about walking horses isn’t pretty. That high-stepping, prancing gait so admired in the show ring comes at the cost of tortuous chemical and physical abuse. Since the walking horse industry is failing to police itself, it’s time Congress stepped in.
That’s the position of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), sponsors of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 1518/S. 1406). Proposed two years ago, the bill has broad, bipartisan support from more than 360 lawmakers.
Now, in a late-hour plea to Congress, Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, executive vice president and chief executive officer for the American Veterinary Medical Association, is pleading publicly with Congress to "get back in the saddle and do what’s right for America’s walking horses."
The PAST Act "languishes in the halls of Congress because some high-ranking officials do not have the guts to cross party lines and support a law that is based in common sense and the recognition of our human responsibility to protect animals that cannot protect themselves," DeHaven said.
Comparing the abuse of walking horses to animal fighting, "another unethical endeavor with severe consequences for both animals and people," that was outlawed in February 2014, DeHaven urged Congress to "extend that same sort of compassion toward America’s walking horses."
In comments to the article, Brian Anderton, who has been found in violation of existing anti-soring law, and whose The Midnight Sky placed third at the 2014 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, protested, "These horses are the most cared for and receive a whole lot better health care than I do. Anybody who thinks I would abuse one of them is like telling me I would abuse my own child."
Also in comments, "For the Horses," proposed a petition campaign to raise visibility and urge Congress to act.