Affording an industry the freedom to regulate itself presents a classic dilemma: It sounds good, and sometimes it works. But sometimes is doesn’t.
Self-policing in the Tennessee Walking Horse community to end the abusive practice of soring show horses has been an abysmal failure, to the point that Congress enacted the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the showing, selling, or transporting sored animals. Forty-plus years later, incidents of soring have been reduced but not eliminated by HPA intervention, even with serious criminal and civil penalties on the table for violators.
Racing fares no better. Inconsistent regulation at the state level and a growing perception of the sport as riddled with drugs, both legal and illegal, have led to another call for the feds to step in.
Sometimes, though, an industry gets it rightÑwith a little help from a friend.
Seventy Years and Counting
For decades, the entertainment industry has collaborated with the American Humane Association (AHA) to protect the welfare of horses and other animals used in motion pictures and television. American Humane Certified Animal Safety Representativesª monitor production of movies and television programs, make suggestions for improvement when necessary, and certify compliance (or lack thereof) with the organization’s standards for animal welfare.
The relationship is a voluntary one; AHA no real authority to demand compliance with its production standards. The relationship works, though, because everyone benefits. The AHA’s “No Animals Were Harmed”¨ certification is a well-recognized marketing