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Animal Defenders of Westchester
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Animal-rights groups vs. horse-racing plan


GO TO  TO SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST HORSE RACING CRUELTIES – – for more information, go to (excellent website!)

Sept. 18, 2005

The Agriculture Ministry continues to back a plan to bring horse racing to Israel, despite an animal-right’s group’s appeal to the Supreme Court against the plan and criticism by MKs opposed to legalized gambling.

Hakol Chai, an Israeli animal-rights organization with a sister group in Virginia (CHAI, the Concern for Helping Animals in Israel) petitioned the Supreme Court on September 18, claiming that the government, which approved the racing plan in 2004, had failed to take into account the cruelty endemic in the sport. The initiative, which is being pushed by Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, would see two race tracks in Israel – the first in the North, in the Gilboa region, and a second in the Negev. Katz has said that the tracks will provide employment and serve as tourist attractions. Other MKs, notably Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party, have slammed the plan, claiming that additional legalization of gambling (beyond the current Mifal Hapayis lottery and the Sportoro soccer pools) will harm poor Israelis. A bill enabling the construction of the race tracks is now being prepared for approval by the Knesset, which must pass a law allowing work to begin.

The Agriculture Ministry rejects Hakol Chai’s claims of animal cruelty. “Horse racing in Israel isn’t organized, and opening it to gambling is expected to raise the level of medical care and treatment of the horses, and so the appearance of this sport in Israel is welcome,” says Dafna Yeristo – can’t read this – a Ministry spokesperson. “Obviously, unprofessional care causes the horses much suffering. In addition, the sport will provide employment for many out-of-work Israelis and will contribute to regional development.”

Tali Lavie, spokesperson for Hakol Chai, insists that the sport’s cruelty is severe and well documented. Drugging and steroid use – 70% of race-horses are given performance-enhancing substances. Stomach, lung, and heart damage is widespread, as are bone fractures. Once the horses are no longer profitable, they are often killed. “Racehorses live, on average, six years, while a horse’s normal life span is around 25,” Lavie says. “Israel can find ways of developing tourism that don’t involve causing such cruelty to animals.”

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