Some American horse and livestock auctions are breaking the law by selling horses showing evidence of soring, the Humane Society of the United States says.
It wants the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pursue meaningful penalties against auction establishments that facilitate the sale of sored horses in violation of the Horse Protection Act.
The HSUS and Omega Horse Rescue recently acquired a Tennessee walking horse from a livestock auction.
The horse, now named Dutch, arrived at the auction still wearing tall, heavy stacked shoes used on Big Lick walking horses. The society said Dutch’s pasterns were visibly scarred from years of soring abuse.
Dutch had already been sold through two auctions before before acquired by the charities, the HSUS said.
Following an investigation, the USDA issued letters of warning to several of the individuals who permitted Dutch to be put up for sale illegally, the society said.
However, it wants the USDA to make auctions aware that the sale of sored horses is illegal and will not be tolerated. It says the agency should prosecute those that fail to comply.
The society’s vice-president for equine protection, Keith Dane, outlined his concerns in a letter to a senior USDA official.
“Without adequate enforcement of the Horse Protection Act at horse and livestock auctions, unscrupulous owners and trainers have the opportunity to discard scarred show horses without facing the consequences of illegally selling a horse who has been subjected to soring,” Dane said.
Dane urged the USDA to pursue the maximum penalties available against any auction establishment found in violation of the Horse Protection Act rather than issuing warnings.
“Livestock and horse auctions are responsible for complying with the Horse Protection Act and should be held accountable for violations of the law at their sales – not allowed to provide an easy outlet for the dumping by their owners of horses who have been victims of soring abuse,” Dane said.