YORK, Pa. — Advocates in Pennsylvania continue to fight to protect thoroughbred racehorses who endure mistreatment and abuse.
In January, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission approved dozens of reforms in an effort to reduce horse racing injuries and deaths. The measures approved include: more in-depth veterinary exams and a hotline where people can call to report possible abuse or mistreatment.
The new measures also include limits on the use of certain drugs.
While advocates believe this is a step in the right direction, and they expect to see further improvement in the future, they say it’s still not enough, and more needs to be done right now.
"I do expect that all of these measures, you are going to start to see the positive results of lower fatality rates in Pennsylvania over the next year, two years," Dr. Bryan Langlois, a local veterinarian, said.
Some of the new measures approved in January have now been in effect since March 1, however, others still have to go through the state’s regulatory process which might take more time.
“So far, 20 calls have come into the hotline so, that’s really good," Dr. Langlois reported.
At the last meeting, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission gave an update on the enforcement actions.
“They did report on the results of certain random inspections that were done on the backside, they talked about the integrity hotline, and made sure that everybody understood exactly how that worked," Dr. Langlois said.
While advocates are praising the commission for their transparency and efforts to tackle this issue, they say more could still be done.
“We need to get better in Pennsylvania at providing better diagnostic imaging, so things like radiographs, X-rays, CT-scans, allow us to catch issues sooner and either give the horse time off or, treat it properly so it doesn’t become a chronic injury," Dr. Langlois said. "I think there has to be more transparency in the veterinary records, and transmission of those veterinary records from barn to barn, if a horse is claimed or something like that."
Advocates say another key component in solving this problem is having stiffer penalties for those who break the rules.