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Supreme Court Victory For Horses. 12 April 2007, Tel Aviv, Israel

"Horses won an important victory today," said Hakol Chai spokesperson, Tali Lavie. Hakol Chai is the Israeli sister charity of the U.S.-based Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI).

In response to Hakol Chai’s petition to Israel's Supreme Court to block the government from building two race tracks for the purpose of introducing gambling on horse racing, the government conceded that the practice is illegal and cannot enter the country without a change in the current law. Israeli law forbids gambling and cruelty to animals, both of which are an inherent part of this industry.

In a settlement signed by both parties, the government also promised the Court it will grant a hearing to Hakol Chai’s representatives, at which it will give serious consideration to the experts' opinions Hakol Chai submitted to the Court, which argue against allowing racing into the country. Until the Court petition was filed, the government refused to acknowledge the NGO's concerns. When it reached its decision to bring the industry into Israel three years ago, it failed to consider the animal welfare implications, in violation of the Animal Protection Law.

"Until now, the government has turned a blind eye to the documented statements of experts provided to the Court," explains Lavie. "Today's agreement represents a breakthrough. The government has been put on notice that it can no longer ignore the pain and suffering of animals affected by its decisions."

Catastrophic injuries such as befell Barbaro, bleeding in the lungs, chronic ulcers, and being drugged so they can race even while injured are just some aspects of the terrible fate to which race horses are routinely subjected.

Thousands are bred annually, the few fastest selected to race, the rest often sent to slaughter. At around 6, most Thoroughbred race horses have slowed down, putting an end to their racing careers. Though young and healthy, these no longer profitable horses are typically sent to slaughter or sold into a downward spiral of abuse.

In its response to Hakol Chai's petition, the government stated its intent to propose a law that would allow gambling and also provide for the horses' welfare.

"When Knesset members learn of the widespread, terrible cruelties that are unavoidable if this industry comes to Israel, we are confident they will vote against allowing it in," states Lavie. "Regulations in other countries have not succeeded in preventing or stopping the widespread cruelties that are inevitable when horses are pushed beyond their capacity."

At industry backers' most recent attempt to generate interest in racing, attendance was sparse, as about 40 of the charity's supporters convinced many who arrived to turn around and leave. "Hakol Chai will continue its campaign to educate the public and Knesset members," asserts Lavie.

(c) CHAI ONLINE



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