In 2013, an investigator for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals worked undercover for four months in the barn of a well-known Thoroughbred racehorse trainer.  PETA alleged that the trainer “forced injured and/or suffering horses to race and train.”  According to USA Today, after a year-long review, “the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission discussed the findings of its investigators and agreed neither [the trainer] nor his assistant…had done anything wrong.”

In response to similar investigations, Iowa passed a law in 2012 making it a crime for anyone to go undercover at agriculture-related operations like factory farms and slaughterhouses.  Days ago, in early 2019, a federal judge overturned the law as a violation of the First Amendment.  The Executive Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund reacted to the ruling:  “Ag-Gag laws are a pernicious attempt by animal exploitation industries to hide some of the worst forms of animal abuse in the United States.  Today’s victory makes it clear that the government cannot protect these industries at the expense of our constitutional rights.”

Undercover investigations can expose inhumane treatment of animals.  On the other hand, the investigators may falsify and sensationalize their findings.

Animal-based enterprises tend to be insensitive or oblivious to how the general public views them.  For example, a recent article in the Lexington Herald Leader reported that:

“Kentucky is the worst state for animal protection laws for the 12th year in a row, according to the annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report.  The 13th annual report, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund was released Tuesday.

Kentucky is the only state that prohibits veterinarians from reporting suspected animal abuse, according to the release…  Felony animal cruelty and animal fighting only covers limited species, according to the release.”

Think about this Herald Leader article within the context of the well-publicized 2016 episode in which a Kentucky-based racehorse trainer and her father were charged with 43 counts of second-degree animal cruelty.  The public hears or reads of egregious episodes like this and are left to wonder why Kentucky, the horse-capital of the United States, is “the worst state for animal protection laws” and “is the only state that prohibits veterinarians from reporting suspected animal abuse.”

The Thoroughbred industry repeatedly shoots itself in the proverbial foot on humane issues. Witness the resistance to strict nationwide medication policy and regulation.

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