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USDA Proposes Changes to End the Inhumane Practice of Soring



Editor's Note:  The following is a press release from USDA.  Click here to view the USDA released Fact Sheet on the proposed rule.

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2016--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced proposed changes to strengthen enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and end inhumane practices known as soring, which cause horses to suffer physical pain, distress, inflammation, or lameness while walking and moving.

APHIS enforces the HPA, a Federal law that prohibits horses subjected to soring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions. The HPA also prohibits drivers from transporting sored horses to or from any of these events. APHIS works actively with the horse industry to protect against such abuse and to ensure that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows.

“As tasked by Congress, the HPA’s ultimate goal is to completely end the inhumane practice of soring,” said APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea.  “The recommended changes will ultimately help us end soring altogether by giving USDA direct control over the inspection process, and banning the use of certain equipment and training devices is allowed under existing regulations. We believe an independent pool of APHIS-trained inspectors, combined with a ban on inhumane training methods, will be a more effective deterrent to the cruel and inhumane practice of horse soring.” 

The proposed rule makes two significant changes:

APHIS would assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors.  The new cadre of inspectors would be veterinarians and veterinary technicians who would be required to follow APHIS rules and standards of conduct. 

APHIS would ban the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.  This would align the HPA regulations with existing equestrian standards set forth by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

 The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register July 26, 2016, and will be available for public comment at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0009.  It can be viewed online today at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.  Consideration will be given to comments received on or before September 26.

Additionally, APHIS is announcing five public meetings to seek additional comments and feedback from the public.  Those meetings are scheduled for: 

Tuesday, Aug. 9 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Wednesday, Aug. 10 in Lexington, Ky.
Tuesday, Aug. 16 in Sacramento, Calif.
Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Riverdale, Md.
Wednesday, Sept. 15, a call-in virtual public meeting.

More information about those meetings – including how to participate – can be found on the Animal Care website at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/horse-protection-amendments

Comments may also be submitted either by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0009 or by postal mail/commercial delivery to: Docket No. APHIS-2011-0009, Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD, 20737-1238.  Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov website and may also be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 799-7039

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