You’ve probably seen the emails or social media calls to action asking you to send a letter/fax/email to someone, either supporting or opposing a proposed law or other decision. Maybe you’ve even dropped a letter in a mailbox, or faxed, or clicked “send.”

Do you ever wonder what happens to those missives? Does anybody actually read them?

It turns out that the feds do, at least some of the time.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke with Keith Dane, Director for Equine Protection at the Humane Society of the United States, about the organization’s undercover investigation of abuse at the stable of a prominent trainer of Tennessee Walking Horses. Self-regulation of the Walking Horse industry isn’t working, Dane said, and he suggested that the federal government assume full responsibility for inspection of animals and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (“HPA”).

Having the feds step in and take over might be a pipe dream, and even if realized might not be the best answer. Federal regulation of the Walking Horse industry, or any industry, comes with its own set of problems.

The United States Department of Agriculture doesn’t appear ready to take on full responsibility for regulating the Walking Horse industry, at least not yet. The USDA has taken an important step toward more effective enforcement of the HPA, however, by adopting a rule that should make things more consistentÑand maybe more effective. The rule, which takes effect on July 9, requires uniform, minimum penalties for violation of the HPA rather than leaving the assessment of penalties to the discretion of individual organiz