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National TV ad campaign seeks backing for anti-soring bill

A national television advertising campaign backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the latest strategy in promoting a federal bill aimed at toughening regulations and penalties around the illegal practice of soring horses.

The advertisement is pushing for the passage of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518/S. 1406.

It urges viewers to call their federal lawmakers and ask them to pass the bill.

It began airing in Kentucky on Sunday, urging viewers to call Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and ask them to support the PAST Act.

The ad campaign would expand to other media markets around the country in the coming weeks, the HSUS said.

The commercial is the latest effort by the HSUS to urge Congress to pass the bill against soring – the illegal practice of inflicting pain to horses’ legs and feet to force them to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait known as the Big Lick.

The Senate bill has been introduced by their Republican colleague, Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, and it has 51 cosponsors. The House bill has 268 cosponsors.

The bill will fortify an existing federal law, the Horse Protection Act, which was passed in 1970 to eliminate the abuse of Tennessee walking horses and other similar breeds.

The HSUS says the bill is so weak that cheating and violations have been rampant for decades. The PAST Act would end the failed industry self-policing system; ban the show-ring use of chains, stacks, and excessively heavy shoes (devices that used in the soring process); and increase penalties for violators.

“Kentucky is the heart of horse country in the US, and Senators McConnell and Paul should support this critical legislation to protect horses from the cruelty of soring,” said Pam Rogers, Kentucky state director for the HSUS.

“No other breeds are subjected to this kind of intentional form of torture, and it is a disgrace that it exists anywhere.

“Only an upgrade of the federal law will put an end to the horrible horse abuse that still plagues the ‘Big Lick’ show world.”

The PAST Act is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (and every other state veterinary medical association), the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the American Horse Council, along with a host of other national animal protection, veterinary, and horse industry organizations.

In 2011, an HSUS investigation into Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell’s stable in Collierville, Tennessee, revealed shocking cruelty to horses to a national audience, which led to the introduction of the PAST Act.

The investigator recorded horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face and intentionally burned with caustic chemicals. The new commercial shows footage from this investigation.

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