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Animal Wellness Applauds Rep. Jim Cooper for Courageous Vote for TN Walkers, Nashville Vote on Soring Ban Tonight


Example of soring that enforcement of the Horse Protection Act would prevent

Priscilla Presley, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Holly Gann, and Marty Irby on Capitol Hill Discussing the PAST Act

Priscilla Presley and Animal Wellness Action Executive Director Marty Irby Lobbying for the PAST Act on Capitol Hill in January of 2019

Effort to Stop Animal Cruelty Secured an Overwhelming Majority of Lawmakers in Congress Voting for Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act

I have tried to persuade the walking horse industry to clean up its act for many years and have given it a chance to stop the scandals.”
— - U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper
NASHVILLE, TN, USA, August 6, 2019 / -- The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, by a vote of 333 to 96. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), joined U.S. Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), in bipartisan fashion voting for the measure that would end six decades of abuse. In a spirited debate on the House floor, Reps. Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper), and John Rose (R-Cookeville), represented the pro-soring coalition against the PAST Act in defense of the "Big Lick" Animal Cruelty that's exhibited annually at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville.

Tonight, the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County is set to vote on a measure to ban the same soring devices as the PAST Act – large stacked shoes and ankle chains utilized to create the “Big Lick” soring 'tradition' that’s plagued the state and the Tennessee Walking Horse breed for six decades. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses' front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses' hooves to create the exaggerated gait known as the "Big Lick." The council's measure, led by Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy, comes on the heels of the historic U.S. House vote on July 25th.

“We applaud Reps. Jim Cooper, Tim Burchett, and Steve Cohen, and Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy for their courageous and historical stand against the scourge of soring that’s marred the state and Tennessee Walking Horse for sixty years,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “These Tennessee heroes have sent a strong message to the U.S. Senate and pro-soring coalition that obstructionist tactics to keep the soring 'tradition' alive will not prevail."

"I have tried to persuade the walking horse industry to clean up its act for many years and have given it a chance to stop the scandals," said Rep. Jim Cooper in a letter to constituents. "Congress has lost its patience. The public wants horses protected."

The PAST Act, led by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), cochairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, was cosponsored by 308 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), and its Senate companion, led by U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-VA) has garnered 43 cosponsors in the Upper Chamber.

Like Murphy's measure, the PAST Act would ban the use of painful large stacked shoes and ankle chains, but would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry, and toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act and is supported by Animal Wellness Action, the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sherrif's Association, and Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association

The PAST Act has been blocked in Congress for the past six years by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, and Marsha Blackburn, along with DesJarlais, but the new House Rules in the 116th Congress created a pathway for any legislation that’s reached 290 cosponsors (2/3 of the House) to receive a vote.

The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Marty Irby
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Damage to 'Big Lick' horse from alleged pressure shoeing soring incident