DOES “BUSINESS” OUTWEIGH SUFFERING?

by Sharon Rondeau

(Dec. 20, 2016) — On Tuesday morning at 9:09 AM EST, the following message was sent through the Trump transition team website, greatagain.gov:

Good morning. I have contacted you before on the topic of government corruption to which my newspaper, The Post & Email, has been dedicated to exposing for the last seven years.

Specifically, I have been reporting on the questions surrounding the life narrative of Barack Hussein Obama and the findings of forgery of his long-form birth certificate and Selective Service registration form by the Maricopa County, AZ Cold Case Posse.

Other topics I have researched are institutionalized corruption in the Tennessee courts and in particular, the grand juries, whose foremen are hand-picked by the criminal court judges presiding over trials of the defendants so indicted. This practice has been ongoing for more than a century and shows no signs of abating, although the US Supreme Court ruled in Hobby v. US and Rose v. Mitchell that the selection of a grand jury foreman should be done in an unbiased manner.

In recent weeks, a new form of corruption has come to my attention involving the abuse of certain types of horses, specifically the Tennessee Walking Horse and other “gaited” breeds. Unsurprisingly, the abuse appears to have begun in Shelbyville, TN, and is known as “soring.”

Although a violation of the Horse Protection Act of 1970, the practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses continues in a certain segment of the industry, which is a mainstay of the economy in a number of Southern states. It involves applying harsh chemicals, including WD–40, mustard oil or kerosene, to the horse’s lower legs and wrapping them overnight to “cook in” the chemicals for maximum pain afterward.  The horse is shod with “stack” shoes and chains on the front ankles which strike the irritated skin in order to make him step higher in the show ring in an exaggerated gait which is sometimes a risk to both horse and rider.

Although proponents of what has come to be known as the “Big Lick” deny it exists, several trainers have been fined and at least one jailed for animal cruelty after horses under their care were found to have been sored and sometimes abused in other ways.

As of this writing, there is not yet a nominee for Agriculture Secretary.  Over the summer, the current APHIS division of the USDA held a series of hearings on a contemplated rule change to better enforce the Horse Protection Act, taking public comments through October 26.  While it is possible that current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will issue a revised regulation banning stack horse shoes, putty inserted in the horses’ hooves and other “action items” in an effort to stop soring once and for all, no date certain has been set for such an announcement, according to the veterinarian serving as the contact person on this issue with whom I spoke several weeks ago.

Last month, several Tennessee Walking Horse industry stakeholders were quoted in the Shelbyville Gazette as having said that they believe the Trump administration will be friendlier to their interests than Obama has been or Hillary Clinton would have been. http://www.t-g.com/story/2361797.html    There is no question that the TWH breeders, owners and trainers have an interest in maintaining economic viability, but this is often done by first abusing the animals which they show in the hope of earning a top prize.

The constitutionality of “executive action” or agency regulation must also be considered in light of the fact that congressional action on this issue has stalled over several years.  Some opponents of the proposed rule change believe that the wording is overly broad and will ban therapeutic horse shoes and other practices which do not harm the animal.

If soring were not an ongoing problem, there would be no need for wrangling over who should be responsible for inspections prior to horse shows, as is currently the controversy over any proposed change in regulations.

I hope that the Trump administration will look carefully at the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and whether or not it is abiding by the Horse Protection Act of 1970, which prohibits the showing of any horse found to be “sore.” Both Democrat and Republican members of Congress, some of whom were first veterinarians, have signed a letter to Vilsack asking that all action devices, including stack shoes and chains, be banned completely from horse shows.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

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