On Tuesday of this week, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) announced the introduction of AB 2177, the Equine Welfare and Safety in Horse Racing Act. If successful, AB 2177 would enact comprehensive reforms and improvements to racing and eliminate serious contributing factors to equine deaths on racetracks.
AB 2177 is co-sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“If the state is to continue to sanction horse racing and its wagering as a legal sport, addressing horse fatalities to the greatest extent possible needs to take precedence. AB 2177 tackles the practices that can lead to broken bones and death, including the misuse of medication, running horses with pre-existing injuries, utilizing unsafe racing surfaces, and more,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “I look forward to working with the state regulators and all those working in the horse racing industry to enact bold action to protect both horses and jockeys.”
Evidence from necropsies of horses that suffer catastrophic injuries show that the vast majority of racehorses had pre-existing injuries that went unnoticed. While trainers, jockeys, and racing stewards may try their best to prevent equine deaths, the authorized use of a variety of medications and the lack of procedures and technology to identify those injuries have become factors in the horse deaths.
AB 2177 mandates the use of CT scan equipment for screening horses; requires an onsite central pharmacy at the major tracks to control medication use and prevent abuse, and prohibits veterinarians from carrying medications on to the track; prohibits veterinarians from prescribing medications for anything other than the diagnosed condition; requires the suspension, pending an investigation, of a trainer’s license when a horse dies; authorizes the California Horse Racing Board to suspend or revoke a trainer’s license for repeat violations of medication regulations; and more.
In the meantime, the Fund for Horses takes a somewhat blasé stance on the new California bill:
“American Thoroughbreds are bred to breakdown. That is where American horse racing really needs to start — with the cause, not the effect — if the industry is truly serious about eliminating the broken bodies and ongoing carnage of its horses.
This is typical welfarism. It keeps everybody in business.”
This bill may or may not be a kneejerk reaction fueled by the highly anticipated California Ballot Referendum aimed at shutting horse racing down altogether.
What do you say, dear Reader?
FEATURED IMAGE: Racehorses train on a California track. By DAVID JOLES / STAR TRIBUNE.