Tennessee Walking Horses peers from his stall during search for proof of horse soring. HSUS image.

U.S. legislation seeks to create an animal cruelty crimes unit in DOJ

On August 14, 2020, the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act of 2020 was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.

The U.S. House version the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act of 2020, HR 8052, was introduced by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO-2) with three originating cosponsors: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) and Rep Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA-1), and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Its companion bill in the U.S. Senate was introduced by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Kennedy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), and Martha McSally (R-AZ) in the Senate.

If enacted, the ACE Act would create a new Animal Cruelty Crimes section within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), housed within the Environment and Natural Resources Division. Examples of the type of crimes it might deal with are dogfighting and cockfighting, bestiality, the sale of animal crush videos and horse soring.

Could this be important to horses?

It could give a bit more bite to the current federal anti-horse soring law plus add some heft to punishment. The Dept of Justice certainly has more power than the USDA. But will they use it? We don’t think so, so this bill is not for us as horse advocates . . . .

“We support the passage of the PAST Act (S.1007) in the U.S. Senate to eliminate horse soring.” — The Fund for Horses

The PAST Act would end horse soring. The ACE Act would potentially give the federal government more power to enforce the current anti-horse soring law. There is no guarantee that it will.

Help sored horses now

The U.S. House version of the PAST Act won the U.S. House by an overwhelming vote of 333-96. Now on to the U.S. Senate to do the same. This is how you can help.

Check here to see if your two U.S. Senators have co-sponsored S.1007.

If they have, contact them and say thank you, and tell them how important it is to you that this bill becomes law and ask that they use their power to see that it gets a vote.

If they have not, contact them and ask them to cosponsor S.1007 and that they press for the bill to get onto the Senate floor for a vote.

Find your 2 U.S. Senators and contact them here.

History of horse soring

Soring began in the 1950s with gaited horse trainers who were looking to improve their chances of winning at horse shows. To do this, they developed methods to enhance the desired high action gaits to levels greater than that produced by traditional training methods. Thus began the use of irritants, including chemicals and physical objects, or abusive shoeing and hoof-trimming practices on the front legs. Attempting to relieve the pain in his legs, a sored horse lifts front feet off the ground more quickly, creating a flashier gait.

By the 1960s, soring had gained popularity, as horses so treated gained an edge in competition. However, public opposition to the practice also grew, and in 1966, the American Horse Protection Association was created in part to address the issue of soring.

Horse Protection Act

In 1969, Senator Joseph Tydings sponsored legislation to prohibit soring, leading to the passing of the Horse Protection Act in 1970, amended in 1976. While Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and other “high-stepping breeds” are generally targeted by these abusive practices, the Horse Protection Act covers all breeds.

Soring is defined by the HPA with four meanings:

(3)(A) an irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, by a person to any limb of a horse,
(B) any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse,
(C) any tack, nail, screw, or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse, or
(D) any other substance or device has been used by a person on any limb of a horse or a person has engaged in a practice involving a horse, and, as a result of such application, infliction, injection, use, or practice, such horse suffers, or can reasonably be expected to suffer, physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking.

Thank you

Thank you for helping eradicate this horrible abuse.

Related Reading: Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration attendance hits rock bottom »

Image: HSUS

Updated 1:00 am.


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3 thoughts on “U.S. legislation seeks to create an animal cruelty crimes unit in DOJ”

  1. I simply cannot comprehend that public opposition to soring was evident way back in 1966 and here we are Fifty-four (54) years on and soring has not only been allowed to continue but has remained LEGAL ? !!!!!!
    This abhorrent cruelty, which includes the wearing of those cruel stacks, inflicted upon innocent horses must be OUTLAWED forever.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Money talks. Then there is public perception.

      Way too many people feel animals were put on the planet for human use and entertainment then to be disposed of any way they like. We have made some progress but not nearly enough. So animals suffer many horrors.

      Thankfully there are the good souls who work hard to do whatever they can to protect animals from these evildoers.

      Liked by 1 person

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