Humane society honors two US congressmen for horse welfare work

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US Representative Steve Cohen.
US Representative Steve Cohen.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has honored US Congressmen Steve Cohen and Brian Fitzpatrick as its 2021 Humane Horsemen of the Year.

In the citation for the award, the HSUS said Reps. Cohen and Fitzpatrick had been tireless in their efforts to outlaw the abusive horse training practice known as soring and have been leaders in generating support among their colleagues for the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 5441).

“The two also continue to lead efforts to end the slaughter of American horses with their long-standing support of legislation banning the practice here in the U.S. and the export of horses for slaughter, including the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (H.R. 3355). Both bills are co-sponsored by a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives because of their efforts.”

The award is presented annually to individuals who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to protecting American equines.

Cohen and Fitzpatrick are longtime members of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, which works on a bipartisan basis to advance the passage of animal welfare legislation in the House.

Cohen has spoken out strongly against soring in his home state of Tennessee — one of the places the practice is most prevalent. Soring involves trainers burning and disfiguring the front legs and hooves of Tennessee walking horses and other related breeds to produce a pain-based, artificial high-stepping gait prized in some competitions.

“I appreciate the Humane Society of the United States recognizing my work preventing harm and promoting the safe treatment of horses — from the soring of Tennessee walking horses to the welfare of wild horses and burros in the West. It’s an honor to be named the Humane Society’s Humane Horseman of the Year,” Cohen said.

Fitzpatrick, who is the Republican lead on the PAST Act, understands the importance of bipartisan support of animal welfare legislation and represents a district in which many horse businesses operate.

US Representative Brian Fitzpatrick.
US Representative Brian Fitzpatrick.

“I am truly honored to receive this year’s Humane Horseman of the Year Award,” Fitzpatrick said.

“In this Congress, I will continue to champion this issue and advance both H.R. 5441, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which would end the brutal abuse tactics used on show horses, and H.R. 3355, the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, which would fully ban the transport of horses for the purpose of slaughter.”

HSUS senior director of equine protection Keith Dane said the charity was pleased to honor the pair for their long-standing commitments to protecting horses. “As a lifelong horseman and equine advocate, I am one of countless Americans who recognize and appreciate their dynamic work on behalf of horses.”

The PAST and SAFE Acts were recently heard by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, and the Humane Society of the United States is urging leadership to move the legislation forward to a vote in the full House.

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