The HSUS Supports Horseracing; The HSUS Supports Animal Cruelty

Statements from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):

“We’re not against racing. We want it done well and humanely…while PETA may be an anti-racing organization [it’s not], HSUS isn’t.” – former president and CEO Wayne Pacelle

“This is a national industry, and like football or baseball or other major American sports…we need national standards…” – Pacelle

“Two weeks ago, the racing industry celebrated its latest Triple Crown winner, and it’s now enjoying the increased enthusiasm a new superstar brings to the sport. But all of that enthusiasm and support will be difficult to sustain if the industry fails to consider the welfare of the equine athletes at the heart of this sport.” – current president and CEO, Kitty Block

“First, I want to clarify the Humane Society of the United States’ position on horse racing and our interest in this legislation. We are not, in principle, opposing horse racing.” – Block

“The widespread use of both legal and illegal drugs imperils an industry that employs 400,000 Americans.” – Block

“The lack of strong and consistent national oversight of this industry…decreases vital public support for the industry. The Horseracing Integrity Act would address the pervasive drug use in the industry, and – as its name suggests – begin to restore some integrity to horseracing, helping…the business.” – Block

“This change in policy is urgently needed because the administering of performance-enhancing drugs is unfair to just about everyone involved in racing, [including] the fans who wager on the outcome of races…” – Block

“Racehorses are incredible athletes.” – Marty Irby, senior adviser, in a recently-released Facebook video

“The widespread use of both legal and illegal drugs is KILLING [his voice inflection in the video] an industry that employs 400,000 Americans.” – Irby

“Horseracing is a $40 billion a year industry that fuels our economy. Without reform…support from fans will waver.” – Irby

I once called the HSUS’ position on racehorses criminal. It is. But in retrospect, I think that too kind. Horseracing is, by any and all definitions, animal exploitation. Absolutely, positively, unequivocally. Exploitation necessarily involves suffering of some kind. Exploitation, then, must be called abusive. Animal exploitation, then, is animal cruelty. There is no wiggling out of this.

Far worse than the HSUS simply remaining mum on this issue, the self-styled “leading animal advocacy organization” in America is actively trying to help Horseracing survive – indeed to help it thrive. The logic, then, becomes irrepressible: The Humane Society of the United States endorses, at least in this one area, animal exploitation; The Humane Society of the United States countenances, at least in this one area, animal cruelty. Here, a refresher on what that cruelty looks like – cruelty, I remind, that is inherent to horseracing, meaning it could never be eliminated. (note: I will omit the nonconsensual drugging/doping, the HSUS’ virtually singular obsession.)

Commodification: Racehorses are literal chattel, pieces of property to be bought, sold, traded, and dumped whenever and however their owners decide.

Subjugation: “Horsemen” utterly control every moment of their assets’ lives – control effected through, among other things, lip tattoos, nose chains, metal mouth-bits, and leather whips. Force and power; domination of a weaker species.

Confinement and Isolation: In perhaps the worst of it all, racehorses are locked in tiny stalls for over 23 hours a day, making a mockery of the industry claim that horses are born to run, love to run. Adding to this cruelty is the complete isolation of naturally social, herd-oriented animals. In a word, heartrending.

Killing: While the HSUS claims that curtailing and controlling drug use will reduce deaths, the simple truth is that some horses will always die, even if all drugs were ruled out completely (see dead horses in “cleaner” Britain/Australia; see 18-month-old trainees breaking down before ever being injected with raceday meds).

Slaughter: Ignore their hollow “zero-tolerance” policies. Fact is, the vast majority of horses bred to race end up bled-out and butchered. It’s a business, and everyone is trying to find the next Justify; “responsible breeding” does not, will never, exist. Consequently, there are simply way too many has-beens or never-were competing for the available “safe landings.” If in doubt, talk to your local rescues and query them on funding and space. On this, PETA also warrants rebuke for its new feel-good program whereby winning bettors can donate to Thoroughbred retirement. First, it can’t even begin to make a dent. Worse, with this, PETA, too, is now helping Racing rehabilitate its image, thus helping it to become more firmly entrenched in our society.

As previously covered, the HSUS stands against all animal-entertainment – the circus, the marine park, the rodeo, bullfighting, “acting,” and, yes, dogracing – all of it except for horseracing. There can be but one explanation for this: Somewhere within the highest echelons of the HSUS (directors, donors) there are Racing enthusiasts who have co-opted and corrupted this organization. By actively promoting horseracing, the HSUS is abetting the condemnation of countless future generations of horses to lives of crushing negation, terrifying breaks and deaths on the track, and brutal, violent ends in the slaughterhouse. In short, the HSUS is a sham and undeserving of even a dime from anyone who considers him-herself a friend to animals.

18 Comments

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  1. Thank you for this information, Patrick. I will be contacting the HSUS about this and will no longer support this organization until it stops supporting the horse racing industry. I encourage everyone who feels likewise to do the same.

  2. This organization is shameful. It seems to put profit above all else. Politics should never be a factor in the mission of a non profit who claims to want to protect the welfare of animals.

    • Suzanne, I don’t believe the entire organization is shameful. The HSUS does amazing and difficult work around the world. However, this particular issue should most certainly be addressed.

  3. Thank you for shedding light on HSUS’ position on horse racing. It’s incomprehensible that an organization that represents one of the loudest voices for cruelty against animals would take the position that the horse racing industry just needs to eliminate certain practices in order for horse racing to be a good thing for the horses involved.
    Is HSUS honestly turning a blind eye to what these gentle creatures must endure and what usually happens to these amazing beings once they do not perform up to the standards that man deems it should be.
    Horse racing is only good for the those that profit from the horses they exploit. There is absolutely nothing good in it for the horse.

    I have always been a faithful supporter of the HSUS organization for over 15 years and thought they would always work to stamp out any industry that would use practices that harm or cause suffering to animals.
    In light of what has come out I will no longer be giving HSUS any further funds.
    And ask all other self minded humans to do the same. There are many other organizations that hold only the best interest of animals and do not sell out under any circumstances.
    In a time that humans are finally beginning to come to the realization that every living creature has as much right to be on this planet as humans do and not only do they have a right but each one has a purpose.
    And when man interferes with that purpose or exploits any creature for profit it is in effect upsetting the balance within the planets eco system. Humans were meant to take only what they need and give back more than what is taken. Therefore always maintaining a balance.

    As a wise elder once said:
    We all live in a circle of life and when any part of that circle is broken it will effect everything within that Circle.
    Barbie Marquet
    Key Largo, Florida

  4. I totally agree with you. Horses shouldn’t even be ridden until they are 3 years old. In horse racing they start these poor creatures at a year old when their joints aren’t completely done growing. This is why there are so many injuries and broken bones. Horses bodies can’t take the high demand of training and racing at such a young age. It’s a shame and this industry needs to be stopped!

    • Exactly Jodi. Owners don’t want to spend a $ or a day more than absolutely necessary to squeeze a win out of each horse, unless they can collect stud/sperm fees or use the mares to keep the bloodlines going! Sickening!

  5. horse racing is not only cruel, it feeds the slaughter pipeline… animals that are used for monetary gain always suffer

  6. EXCELLENT & COMPLETELY 100% TRUE ARTICLE- HORSE RACING IS ANIMAL EXPLOITATION/ ABUSIVE & HSUS STAND ON THIS IS PAID OFF AT BEST & SICKENING – HORSE BREEDING TO RACE ONLY FEEDS THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE PIPELINE, There ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF UNWANTED ANIMALS ONCE THEY LEAVE THE TRACK. TOO SPIRITED AND SMART FOR MOST PEOPLE TO HANDLE & RIDE – SYSTEMS RIDDLED WITH DRUGS THEY ARE ONLY GOOD FOR A CAN OF DOG FOOD. PERIOD, THE NEST OF THE BEST THAT IS WHERE THEY END UP MUCH LESS THE ALSO-RANS & WHO EVER THINKS DIFFERENT IS TOTALLY IGNORANT TO WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING TO 95% OF THESE HORSES ONCE THEIR RACING CAREER ENDS ( USUALLY AT 3-5 YEARS OF AGE ). DESTROYED IN A CAN OF DOG FOOD IN THE MOST INHUMANE & VULGAR WAYS.

    • Hard to find them in dog food here in the U.S., anymore. HOWEVER, I believe their meat is sold in other countries as food for humans & maybe more. Sad.

      • Racehorses, like all slaughtered US horses, are butchered and sold for human consumption in Europe and Asia. The only exception is the live, yes live, transport (horses alive, shipped in crates) to some countries for humans to eat raw horsemeat.

  7. I WANT THE WHIPPING TO STOP! TODAY!! WHAT OTHER ATHLETE IN THE WORLD IS ALLOWED TO BE WHIPPED? IMAGINE RUNNING AS FAST AS YOU CAN FOR MILES A DAY, BEING WHIPPED ON THE LARGEST MUSCLES YOU ARE ALREADY STRAINING TO THE MAXIMUM!!! THE AUTOMATIC RESPONSE OF THE BODY IS TO CONTRACT & WITHDRAW!!! I’ve seen whipping on the front AND the rear of horses DURING THE RACE!! So how STUPID A STRATEGY is the USE OF THAT TOOL??? WHY IS NO ONE OUTRAGED ABOUT THAT???

  8. By the way, I haven’t been to a racetrack for over 10 years, & don’t intend to go back, but I remember what I saw then, & what I see these days on the replays through HRW.

  9. THANK YOU, Patrick, for this article and for the information about the HSUS…I had no idea! I have often donated to them in the past but now I will write them a STRONG LETTER about what I have learned and tell their CEO that word is getting out about what a purely HYPOCRITICAL organisation they are! I will ask their CEO, Kitty Block, THIS QUESTION: “HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT– KNOWING THAT YOU ARE SUPPORTING A BUSINESS THAT KILLS HORSES EVERY SINGLE DAY ON AMERICA’S RACE TRACKS?”

  10. Horse racing is not a sport for the horses. It is only a term that the humans have made up to justify this brutal and cruel industry of pure animal abuse. HSUS is a sell out for the animals.

  11. I’m saddened that these organizations who advocate for animal welfare and are against the exploitation of animals are allowing this. I won’t be supporting HSUS or PETA anytime soon. So PETA and HSUS have been corrupted by the horse racing business. Wonder what’s in it for them. So much hypocrisy.

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