The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Nov. 19 issued a joint statement of support for the amendments to the Horse Protection Act, HR 6388.
"Soring is an … abuse of horses that is used to produce a high-stepping gait … and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the show ring," said Doug Aspros, DVM, AVMA president. "For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself. The AVMA and AAEP are committed to strengthening the USDA’s ability to enforce the Horse Protection Act and ending this abuse for good. We strongly encourage everyone who cares about the welfare of horses to contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass HR 6388."
Specifically, HR 6388 would:
- Make the act of soring, or directing another person to sore a horse, illegal;
- Require the USDA (rather than the industry) license, train, assign, and oversee inspectors enforcing the Horse Protection Act;
- Prohibit the use of action devices (including boots, collars, chains, rollers, or other devices that encircle or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse) on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses, or Racking horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, or auctions;
- Ban weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that are not used for protective or therapeutic purposes;
- Increase civil and criminal penalties for violations, and create a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time based on the number of violations; and
- Allow for permanent disqualification from the show ring after three or more violations.
"The passage of HR 6388 will strengthen the Horse Protection Act and significantly increase the effort to end the abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse," said AAEP President John Mitchell, DVM. "The AAEP encourages all veterinarians to contact their legislators to voice support for the bill and help end the cruel soring of these beautiful animals."