Wayne Pacelle, president/CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has penned a blog post that should shock and enrage every (true) animal advocate on the planet, as he betrays, once more, the very creatures he purports to defend.

Calling for tighter regulation – reform – Pacelle makes clear (again) that the HSUS is not at all interested in the end of Racing, just a better (cleaner) version of it. Even worse, to him Racing is a sport: “This is a national industry, and like football or baseball or other major American sports – perhaps more so, since the equine athletes cannot speak up for themselves – we need national standards…” “Like football or baseball.” “Equine athletes.” Pacelle goes on to say that in order “for this sport to retain credibility with the American public,” blah, blah, blah.

As an advocate, I recognize the great challenges – hurdles – presented by food and testing. It’s why I understand, though remain conflicted on, a subtler, more incremental approach: “Meatless Monday,” “Vegan Before 6,” “Replace, Reduce, Refine.” But animal entertainment – that is, the enslavement, exploitation, suffering, and, sometimes, killing of animals as a way to pleasantly pass time? We – 21st Century America – should be ashamed at even having this conversation. It must end. Yesterday. Thing is, Pacelle and the HSUS agree as it pertains to…

circuses, acting: “The HSUS opposes the use of captive wild animals as performers in circuses, film and television, and commercials.”

marine-mammal shows: “It is unacceptable for marine mammals to be held in captivity for the purpose of public display. The HSUS…believes that…it should be rejected outright.”

rodeos: “The HSUS opposes rodeos…bull riding, bronco riding, steer roping, calf roping, ‘wild horse racing,’ chuck wagon racing, steer tailing, and horse tripping.”

bullfighting: “The HSUS opposes…bullfighting.”


greyhound racing: “The HSUS opposes greyhound racing. This practice leads to an unacceptable level of greyhound exploitation and suffering solely for profit. The industry promotes and tolerates an overproduction of dogs, resulting in an annual surplus numbering in the thousands, many of whom will end up being destroyed. The sheer waste of life is a scandal.”

Everything, that is, except for horseracing (and other “equine events”), even as all they’ve written on dogracing clearly – at least to those with functioning brains – applies to the equine version. (Worse, actually: Most “surplus” racehorses die violent, terrifying deaths in foreign slaughterhouses. Talk about “scandal.”)

So the question becomes, why? A theory: Either Wayne Pacelle is a closet fan (or can’t quite shake a fandom past) or he counts Racing people, most likely rich and powerful ones, as close friends. Whatever, at least where horses are concerned, both he and the organization he represents – an organization, by the way, sitting on over $200 million in assets – are fakes. But it’s even deeper: By (very publicly) endorsing The Big Lie, by refusing to repudiate this vile-to-the-core industry, the HSUS, with its almost incalculable reach, is helping to ensure that all of Racing’s inherent, other-than-drugging evils – the commodification, the social and emotional deprivation, the abuse (whipping?), the maiming, the destruction – continue, ad infinitum. Betrayal, Mr. Pacelle, is too kind a word. What you are doing to racehorses is unforgivable.