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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wittstruck Speaks; A Few Holes in His Argument

Chris Wittstruck Esq., attorney and USTA director pens a piece on the USTA website regarding the attempt of the current New York City mayor to outlaw the carriage horse industry in Manhattan.  Wittstruck goes on to say if carriage horses are outlawed due to a few bad episodes by animal rights individuals, what is to keep these animal rights people from aiming at harness racing?

I have a problem where the good attorney talks about animal testing for cosmetics, namely because he neglects to mention some of the tests being done on animals have alternative means of being performed without live animals, yet due to cost, companies continue to, as the writer puts it, 'torture' animals for the benefit of humans.  But this is a small point of his article and is best left out of the conversation.  However, all in all, Wittstruck talks how people have rights and animals don't but while animals don't have rights, humans have obligations to treat animals humanely..

This may surprise some people but I agree with Mr. Wittstruck.  Animals don't have the rights humans do.  Humans have an obligation to treat animals humanely.  Where we no doubt disagree is what is considered humane.  The other place where Wittstruck's argument falls apart is the enforcement of such laws regarding  humane treatment. For example, within the racing industry, are the fines for whipping a horse excessively that it has welts severe enough?  There have been cases of people responsible for the death of a horse thru abuse who are permitted after a period of time to return to the industry.  Individuals charged with animal cruelty being reinstated because the abuse didn't involve horses.  Does the industry ever refer cases of abuse to civil authorities?  What about the treatment of retired horses?  Who is watching to protect the horse after their racing days are over when they are sent to slaughter houses and subjected to abuse?

Animals are not humans, that is true.  The risk to racing is not the fact horses are being raced, it is the industry does not adequately protect horses from inhumane treatment.  If racing performed and enforced strictly rules on humane treatment, the animal rights people would not be able to credibly attack racing.  It is when an industry pays face service to these rules, that is when there is a problem.

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