Statements from Kitty Block, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the self-styled “nation’s most effective animal protection organization”:
“[T]he racing industry [is] now enjoying the increased enthusiasm a new superstar [Justify] brings to the sport.”
“First, I want to clarify the Humane Society of the United States’ position on horse racing…. We are not, in principle, opposing horse racing.”
“The widespread use of both legal and illegal drugs imperils an industry that employs 400,000 Americans.”
“The Horseracing Integrity Act would – as its name suggests – begin to restore some integrity to horseracing, helping…the business.”
“This bill [HIA] is a gamechanger for equine athletes. It is a pro-animal, pro-industry measure that will not only help restore fairness to the sport….”
As an advocate, I recognize the great challenges presented by food and testing. It’s why I understand, though remain conflicted on, a subtler, more incremental approach: “Meatless Monday,” “Replace, Reduce, Refine.” But animal entertainment – that is, the enslavement, exploitation, and sometimes killing of animals as a way to pleasantly pass time? We – 21st Century America – should be ashamed at even having this conversation. It must end. Yesterday. Thing is, the HSUS agrees as it pertains to…
Circuses, Acting: “The HSUS opposes the use of captive wild animals as performers in circuses, film, television and commercials.”
Marine-Mammal Shows: “It is unacceptable for marine mammals to be held in captivity for the purpose of public display. [I]t should be rejected outright.”
Bullfighting: “The HSUS opposes bullfighting.”
Rodeos: “The HSUS opposes rodeos as they are commonly organized, since they typically cause torment and stress to animals, expose them to pain, injury or even death and encourage an insensitivity to and acceptance of the inhumane treatment of animals in the name of sport. Accordingly…we oppose bull riding, bronco riding, steer roping, calf roping, ‘wild horse racing,’ chuck wagon racing, steer tailing and horse tripping.”
Greyhound Racing: “The HSUS opposes greyhound racing. This practice leads to an unacceptable level of greyhound exploitation and suffering solely for profit. The industry promotes and tolerates an overproduction of dogs, resulting in an annual surplus numbering in the thousands, many of whom will end up being destroyed. The sheer waste of life is a scandal.”
Everything, that is, except horseracing, even as all it’s written on dogracing (and, as a matter of fact, the rodeo) clearly – at least to those with functioning brains – applies to the equine version. (Actually, I would argue that horseracing is worse because of slaughter. Talk about “scandal.”) The why here isn’t important. What is, what matters most, is what this says about the HSUS.
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. By (very publicly) stating it is not philosophically opposed to horseracing, the HSUS is (very publicly) stating it is not philosophically opposed to all forms of animal cruelty. By actively trying to help Racing survive (thrive), the HSUS, with its enormous influence and reach, is abetting the continued condemnation of countless horses to lives of crushing negation and gruesome, terrifying deaths. And all for nothing more than $2 bets, entertainment. To say the HSUS is no friend to horses doesn’t quite capture it. What the HSUS has done/is doing to these beautiful animals is downright criminal.
(As if the above weren’t enough, consider these figures from 2018, the most recent available on GuideStar: In that year, the HSUS took in over $100 million in contributions and grants, had a payroll of almost $40 million, and was sitting on almost a quarter-billion dollars in assets at year-end. Imagine if just a portion of that were used on ending horseracing. Criminal, indeed.)