No horsing around on animal cruelty

It is a truism that that all mainstream issues start off being fringe issues. I’ve campaigned on animal welfare issues since before I entered the Senate. Despite the fact that there is often widespread public opposition to animal cruelty, animal welfare is still generally treated as a fringe issue in politics, and usually in the media as well.

Even though the general notion of significantly improving animal welfare standards and enforcement is still responded to by most politicians with either platitudes or derision, every now and then a specific issue gets genuine widespread acknowledgement.

It seems that jump racing is going through such a phase at the moment, partly as a result of the recent spate of horse deaths I mentioned here. I can still recall the undisguised mockery I got in an interview on Melbourne radio some years ago in response to my call for an end to jump racing in that state (as has now occurred in all but two Australian states).

Now The Australian has run two pieces on the racing industry response to the possibility of a ban finally being brought in Victoria – as usual the industry is proposing changes to allegedly aimed at addressing  the problem, whilst simultaneously declaring they “are not responding to the protesters and lobby groups.”

Even more tellingly, their main sports writer, Patrick Smith, has not only written that “People should be concerned about jumps racing”, he has also said “they need to be more agitated about the whipping of horses. It is cruelty. It can be nothing else.”

I don’t think there are any calls for a ban on whipping of horses – although there can be no doubt that being whacked with one of those things would hurt like hell – but significantly reducing the use of them should be easily achievable.

Victoria’s chief racing steward “wants consideration given to banning jockeys from raising their arms above their shoulders when whipping, and that horses be given reasonable opportunity to improve after a strike with the whip before the 100 metres. Only then can they be struck again.”

As Patrick Smith says, “it seems incongruous that we fret about horses falling and not about them being whipped. If it is cruelty that drives (Victorian) Racing Minister (Rob) Hull’s review of jumps racing, then he must also call for a full review of the practice of whipping horses every race on every day of every week in every year.

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4 Comments

  1. I would love to see the whole of the horse and dog racing industry phased out and eventually banned.

    Its sole purpose is for the pleasure and profit of humans.

    I’d also like to see pet shops (ie those selling live creatures) and aquariums closed down. They contribue much to animal cruelty and abandonment of former pets.

    Until humans become aware that we are all animals, all worthy of respect, freedom and dignity, little will change.

  2. Kika:</b
    Give me a home where the buffaloes roam?

    You may equate yourself with animals (single celled included?), and suggest cats, dogs & guinea pigs and indeed yourself are all as one under the watchful eyes of Mother Gaia.

    Most I would suggest, would consider that humans were created above & beyond the unreasoning life of a domestic aquarium (OK let’s be multicultural and accept that some may prefer “have evolved“).

    You want to close “pet shops (ie those selling live creatures)”, but would presented a more consistent argument if you included those selling dead creatures (aka butchers), though I suspect this was but an oversight.

    The horse industry’s “sole purpose is for the pleasure and profit of humans”
    …… and your point is ….?

    Not especially fond of the whipping, but haven’t ridden a horse for donkey’s years. I guess there is a reason they’re known as beasts of burden though.

    There may be a case for (respectfully) restricting the freedom of savage animals, and I still don’t like wasps, rather, I celebrate the dignified or otherwise demolition of a nest around the house.

  3. I agree that we should take action now on animal rights and animal cruelty. Today I am doing a speech on animal rights and agree to everything that you have said on this page. Thank you for setting up this site and showing others about it. I am only 12 years old and believe that I will do whatever it takes to help with animal rights and animal cruelty.

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