Opponents who claim a bill proposing tougher measures to stamp out the cruel practice of soring are talking nonsense when they claim it will cost taxpayers millions a year, the head of the Humane Society of the United States says.
Chief executive Wayne Pacelle said the Congressional Budget Office had released its cost estimates for the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act and concluded it “would not affect direct spending”.
“In other words, opponents who’ve bellyached about how this legislation would cost taxpayers upwards of $20 million per year are blowing smoke,” Pacelle wrote in his blog, A Humane Nation.
Pacelle says the bill has reached a new threshold of Congressional support, with Rep. Trent Franks, of Arizona, becoming the 100th House Republican to co-sponsor the bill.
There are also 176 House Democrat cosponsors, making a grand total of 276 at present.
The Senate bill, which has already passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has the bipartisan support of 52 cosponsors.
The act aims to upgrade the 44-year-old Horse Protection Act in a crackdown on soring, which involves the use of chemical or mechanical irritants on the hooves or lower legs of Tennessee Walking Horses to encourage them to perform the exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick”.
Pointing to the neutral costings, Pacelle said the PAST Act would simply enable the US Department of Agriculture to redirect its enforcement efforts and resources in a more efficient and effective way to stamp out the illegal practice.
“There’s competing legislation in play now, with a relative handful of senators and representatives behind it. But it’s not designed to pass – just to confuse and slow down progress on the PAST Act,” Pacelle said.
“To me, it’s basically the same as lawmakers seeking to slow down a bill to responsibly upgrade the federal law against dogfighting and cockfighting.
“Horse soring is a crime, and it’s shocking these legislators are standing in the way of apprehending organized criminals who are knowingly violating federal law and torturing horses.”
Pacelle said the Big Lick segment of the walking horse industry represented a small faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse breeds.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, only about 5.7 percent of the estimated 200,000 Tennessee Walking Horses are even shown, and a fraction of those would be affected by the PAST Act.
“There are ‘flat shod’ competitions that occur every week across North America, and these competitors do not use action devices or large stacks to show their horses,” he said.
“The prevalence of soring is harming the industry more each day, as participants and attendees become warier of being associated with an industry that refuses to crack down on soring.”
Pacelle noted that most major US equine organizations favored the PAST Act.