Cross-posted from The Tennessean
by ROY EXUM
The scurrilous crowd that is desperately trying to halt a national effort to eradicate horse abuse, or soring, of Tennessee Walking Horses has just gotten 10 despicable friends.
Shockingly, the 10 are actual members of Congress and seven are from Tennessee, the epicenter of a depraved and sadistic method of “training” the beautiful animals with caustic wraps and electric shocks in order to achieve an unnatural and sickening gait called the Big Lick.
Currently there is a very good bill pending in Congress called the PAST Act, which stands for “Prevent all Soring Tactics.” The bill, sponsored by Ed Whitfield (R-Ky), is quite popular; a majority 265 of 435 members of Congress are now listed as co-sponsors of H.R. 1518. A similar bill in the Senate (S. 1406), sponsored by Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), is also well on its way with 47 of 100 senators listed as co-sponsors.
But there is fierce opposition to the legislation in Tennessee. A small segment of the Walking Horse industry, called the “Big Lick” crowd, has generously funded the state’s representatives for years and as the PAST Act gained momentum, Republicans from Tennessee in both Congress and in the Senate refused to endorse the bill and some have vociferously spoken against it.
Instead, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) recently introduced an alternative bill, HR 4098, that would greatly reduce the measures being sought by Whitfield’s PAST Act. Blackburn’s bill would not only allow the grotesque pads, or stacks, which are believed to be used to hide “action devices,” but would also virtually eliminate inspection efforts called for in the PAST Act that a great many believe are now necessary to stop over a half-decade of torture and the scofflaw reaction to it.
Not surprisingly, the rest of Tennessee’s embarrassing Republicans in Congress have co-sponsored Blackburn’s laughable alternative. They are Diane Black (R-TN-6), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4), John “Jimmy” Duncan (R-TN-2), Stephen Fincher (R-TN-8), Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-TN-3), and David “Phil” Roe (R-TN-1).* The three others who have endorsed Blackburn’s bill are Garland “Andy” Barr (R-KY-6), Nick Rahall (D-WV-3), and Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY-5).
Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director for the American Veterinary Medical Association, scoffed at Blackburn’s bill, saying, “In fact (it) will do nothing to protect gaited horses and stop the egregious practice of soring. This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in an industry riddled with abuse and will ensure that the broken system of seeing horses sored at an alarming rate does not have to answer for its crimes.”
So what should the Congress and the Senate do? “The PAST Act, which AVMA supports, takes many important and necessary steps to end soring,” Dr. Miller said. “It makes the act of soring illegal; overhauls the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement system; bans incentives to sore, and improves the penalty structure against violators. The bill is supported by the AVMA, AAEP, every state veterinary medical association in the United States, and many other groups and individuals.
* Including Rep. Marsha Blackburn who introduced the bill, that makes 7 out of 9 US House Representatives from the State of Tennessee who endorse the heinous acts of cruelty associated with horse soring.
Read full article Roy Exum: Our Ruse in Congress, The Tennessean, 5 March 2014.
Featured image from MSN.com
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