59 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CALL ON U. S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TOM VILSACK TO “CRACK DOWN” ON THE SORE BIG LICK 2014 TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE NATIONAL CELEBRATION

WASHINGTON, DC – In a period when Congress has a hard time deciding what day it is,   59 members of Congress sent a letter to U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking the USDA to take off the gloves and get serious about enforcing the Horse Protection Act to eliminate horse soring and abuse.

Tom Vilsack - U. S. Secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack – U. S. Secretary of Agriculture

Leading the charge were Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY)    and 58 other PAST ACT supporters.

REPRESENTATIVE ED WHITFIELD (R-KY)

REPRESENTATIVE ED WHITFIELD (R-KY)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014

 

Contact: Marty Irby (Whitfield): 202-225-3115

        Ben Garmisa (Cohen): 202-225-3265

 

Congress Urges Strengthened Enforcement

of the Horse Protection Act

 

59 Members of Congress Send Letter to Secretary of Agriculture Advocating for Stringent Inspections at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

WASHINGTON, DC  ““  On August 7, 2014, 59 Members of the United States House of Representatives led by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY-01), the lead sponsors of the  Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST), H.R. 1518, sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.   The letter encourages the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to “undertake a substantial and active on-the-ground role to ensure enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) at this year’s  Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration“ that began yesterday in Shelbyville.

USDA records indicate that in 2012,  76 percent of the entries at The Celebration tested positive for illegal foreign substances and in 2013, 67 percent tested positive for the same.  Many of these substances include masking agents utilized to hide the soring so the entries trick inspectors and are still able to compete while violating the HPA. The results of these tests are unfortunately issued weeks and sometimes months after the competition has ended.

 The Tennessee pro-soring groups, have repeatedly displayed a complete disregard for horse protection, and have clearly emphasized the need for the PAST Act and stronger enforcement of the HPA. The decline in entry numbers of 33 percent from 2012 and major decline in attendance clearly shows that society will no longer tolerate this culture of abuse.

“We urge the Department to aggressively inspect horses in each class, both pre-show and post-show, each night of the Celebration ““ not merely monitor the performance of DQPs,” said the Members in the letter to Vilsack.   “We expect that the Department’s inspection protocol will include the use of thermography and pastern swabs to identify foreign substances, and that these tools will be part of the enforcement process, not just for information gathering.   In addition, because of the increasing incidence of pressure shoeing in recent years, we ask that the Department make good on past threats to remove shoes and pad packages as part of its inspection.   This should be done on a random basis, as well as for any horse whose appearance, gait and behavior suggests that it may have been pressure-shod, especially in aged stallion classes and for the World Grand Championship.”

In ongoing recent discussions with the USDA, Secretary Vilsack has committed to using every advanced procedure and tool available which will include thermography, pastern swabs, digital imaging, shoe removal to detect pressure shoeing, and other techniques and technologies.

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It’s time to lay it down on the sore Big Lick.

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