The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) hand delivered a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today, urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to move forward with proposed amendments to the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and deny requests from certain factions within affected industries to extend the comment period beyond the current September 26 deadline.
The proposed rule contains regulations that could end the practice of soring, which is defined as the deliberate causing of pain to artificially exaggerate the leg motion of a horse’s gait. The practice is commonly used on “big lick” Tennessee Walking Horses, but other gaited horses may also suffer from this practice.
“These requests from the industry are intended only to stall implementation of the rule,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “A 60 day delay would ensure that the rule would not be implemented during the current administration and cause further delay in the implementation of long-overdue changes leading to the diminished welfare of more horses.”
The proposed rule would address the issue of soring through amendments to the Horse Protection Act. Two significant changes are:
– USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors. The horse industry organizations would no longer be allowed to handle inspections, which can be ineffective due to conflicts of interest, and inspectors would be veterinarians and veterinary technicians required to follow USDA rules and standards of conduct.
– USDA-APHIS would also ban the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.
The proposed rule is available for public comment here, and comments can be submitted through September 26.
APHIS will also be hosting a series of meetings where the public can provide additional comments and feedback. Future meetings are scheduled for:
Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Riverdale, Md.
Wednesday, Sept. 15, a call-in virtual public meeting.
To register or learn more about the public meetings, visit here.
To learn more about soring, visit the AVMA’s resources on the subject here.