Shortly after midnight Wednesday, the New York State Assembly passed an aftercare bill which prohibits the slaughter of racehorses and racehorse breeding stock, requires that racehorses be microchipped, and provides tax incentives for Thoroughbred aftercare donations on tax returns.
The bill will now be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it.
The purpose of the legislation is to ensure the prohibition of the inhumane slaughter of retired racehorses and breeding stock. The legislation also increases access to funding for appropriate care of retired racehorses by ensuring that monies generated by enforcement will be dedicated to the aftercare of retired race horses, and allowing New York individuals and corporations to make voluntary contributions dedicated to funding aftercare programs. The bill will also increase Gaming Commission insight into transfer of horse ownership information, by requiring microchipping of all racehorses in New York, and that such information be provided to the Commission.
The New York Racing Association has an existing anti-slaughter policy in effect, whereby any owner or trainer stabled at a NYRA facility found to have sold a horse for slaughter will have his or her stalls permanently revoked from all NYRA tracks. NYRA also requires its horsemen to do due diligence in the release of horses from their care.
The bill's passage was met with praise from racing officials in New York.
“This legislation positions New York as the national leader when it comes to responsibly protecting our retired racehorses,” said NYRA President & CEO David O'Rourke. “NYRA is proud to have long supported all elements of this important legislation because it reflects our commitment to Thoroughbred aftercare. We thank Senator Joe Addabbo and Assembly Member Gary Pretlow, Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committees, for prioritizing the health and safety of thoroughbreds in New York.”
Said NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum, “NYTHA and all our members are gratified that we are able to work with animal advocates both within the sport and in the legislature to achieve this historic legislation benefitting horses that are bred and raced in New York.”
The New York Thoroughbred Breeders also played a major role in helping to lobby for the bill.
“The breeders of New York State certainly thank the sponsors of this legislation as well as the entire state legislature,” said Thomas J. Gallo, President of New York Thoroughbred Breeders. “This is landmark legislation that not only ensures the protection of our equine athletes, but adds a key necessary level of integrity to our sport.”
Senator Addabbo said, “As Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, I understand the importance of aftercare for racehorses in the racing industry. Greater oversight, including ensuring there is appropriate funding available for aftercare, microchipping to track ownership, and holding owners accountable in instances of slaughter, are all critical to improving the racing industry and future fate of horses. Over the past 10 years, a variety of nonprofits and for-profit businesses have been created to address the aftercare problem, so it's exciting to see new regulations being implemented to ensure proper care is in place for horses after they retire. My thanks to the equine advocates and my colleagues in government in advancing this significant legislative initiative.”
Assembly member Gary Pretlow, Chair of Racing and Wagering noted, “This effort was a hard fought and long overdue recognition of an issue that has, for years gone under the radar. Equines have, for centuries benefitted the world, and served to advance the human condition. It is impossible to think about our lives today without gratitude for their service and usefulness, and in the racing industry, wonderment at their astonishing speed, agility, power, and gracefulness. Yet for all their value and the joy they bring to us, they often suffer from inhumane treatment by the very industries they benefit. This bill is a strong step in the direction of rectifying this and I am proud to have sponsored and championed it.”
Equine advocates pronounced themselves equally happy.
“We cannot thank our sponsors and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Agriculture Committee, enough for their steadfast support and commitment in the face of the many challenges this bill encountered. This initiative is a huge stride forward in protecting equines in the racing industry,” said Karin Carreau, Founder and Chair of HORSEPOWER, Inc. the state's only equine policy advocacy organization.