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Ex-Racehorses Starve as Charity Fails in Mission to Care for Them

March 18, 2011 | Horses / Domesticated & Feral Animals

The New York Times

March 17, 2011


One of the largest private organizations in the world dedicated to caring for former racehorses has been so slow or delinquent in paying for the upkeep of the more than 1,000 horses under its care that scores have wound up starved and neglected, some fatally, according to interviews and inspection reports.

The group, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, is based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., just miles from the famous racetrack that annually hosts one of thoroughbred racing's premier meets. For years, it has received millions in donations from some pillars of the industry. But over the past two years, according to the foundation's financial disclosure documents, it has been operating at a deficit, and as a result has not reliably been paying the 25 farms it contracts with to oversee the retired horses.

For example, at the 4-H Farm in Oklahoma, inspectors last month could find only 47 of the 63 retired horses that had been assigned to it. Many of those were starving. The rest had died, probably of neglect, inspectors concluded. Last week, at a Kentucky farm that is also supposed to receive money from the foundation, 34 horses were found in "poor" or "emaciated" condition, inspectors found. One horse had to be euthanized because of malnutrition.

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The article states that one of the most fundamental challenges vexing the Horse racing industry is "how to humanely look out for horses that no longer have any value at the racetrack or in the breeding shed." The root of the problem is breeding horses into existence merely to make a profit off their forced labor, whether that be in the form of horse racing, pulling horse-drawn carriages, or any other way humans have dominated and exploited horses. When horses are treated as mere commodities, the economic model the horse-exploiting industries operate within makes it necessary to discard them once they can no longer make a profit. Friends of Animals has a long-standing campaign to enact legislation to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City, and we helped rescue a NYC carriage horse from the killer buyer auctions last summer--where many horses end up, and the last stop before the slaughterhouse. As long as industries exist that breed horses into existence merely so they can exploit them for profit, horses will end up in terrible situation of abuse, neglect and slaughter once they stop bringing in money. The only way to stop this brutal cycle is to boycott these unethical industries and work towards banning them or putting them out of business permanently.

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