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Largest Horse Racing Protest in History

June 13, 2019 by Leave a Comment

The News

On June 8th, approximately 150 animal rights activists staged a protest at the Belmont Stakes, the final leg in the American Triple Crown. According to the advocacy group Horseracing Wrongs, the protest, which attracted activists from as far as 150 miles away, was the largest ever at a race track.

During the protest, Patrick Batuello, the director of Horseracing Wrongs, spoke to TheirTurn about why the organization is working to abolish the horse racing industry.

“From the moment race horses are born, they are abused creatures. They are torn from their mothers as mere babes. Their bodies are pounded years before they are done forming. They’re intensively confined. They’re socially isolated. They’re drugged, doped and beaten with whips. They’re bought, sold, traded and dumped like common Ebay products and, of course, they’re killed routinely.”

While not unusual, the death of 35 horses since December at California’s Santa Anita racetrack has, for the first time, triggered mainstream public discourse about the ethics and future of horse racing in the United States. In a June 11th editorial (“We are Running Out of Ways to Tell Santa Anita to Stop Racing”), the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Over time, Americans have to decide how much death they are willing to tolerate in this ancient sport.”

According to Horseracing Wrongs, an estimated 2,000 horses die on the tracks or during training each year.

Horseracing Wrongs will be staging protests throughout July and August during the upcoming races at the Saratoga Race Track in upstate New York. In addition, the organization is, in the coming months, sponsoring protests in 16 states at 22 tracks.

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Catskill Animal Sanctuary Hosts 15th Anniversary “Shindig” in Upstate New York

September 18, 2016 by Leave a Comment

The News

On September 17th, about 1,500 people traveled to upstate New York to attend Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s (CAS) annual “shindig,” a day long celebration with rescued animals, live bands, cooking demonstrations, vegan food vendors, speakers and hayrides.

According to Kathy Stevens, the founder of CAS, sanctuaries enable visitors who aren’t already vegan to “connect the dots between their lifestyle choices and the suffering of these beautiful animals.” She asserts that people must “understand that our choice to eat animals condemns countless beings to an unthinkable level of torture, fear and terror.”

Attendees bond with farm animals at Catskill Animal Sanctuary's 15th Anniversary Shindig

Attendees bond with farm animals at Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s 15th Anniversary Shindig

By inviting many vegan food vendors to the shindig, Stevens demonstrates that adopting a diet free of animals is hardly a sacrifice, given how delicious vegan food in 2016.  And while not all vegan food is health food, a plant-based diet, Stevens asserts, is better for our health and for the planet, as animal agriculture “is the primary cause of the global devastation we’re experiencing.”


At least a dozen vegan food vendors lined the roads within the sanctuary.

Your Turn

Please visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary to learn more about and support the organization’s life-saving work.

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Live Horse Exhibit at NYC Art Gallery Triggers Backlash and Protests (Video)

June 30, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

As thousands of New Yorkers gathered at the Stonewall Inn on June 26th to celebrate the freedom to marry, 12 horses tethered to an art gallery wall just a few blocks away waited patiently for the freedom to move. It was an ironic and disheartening site to behold on an otherwise happy and historic day in Greenwich Village.

Just a few blocks away from the freedom to marry celebration, horses in art gallery were stripped of freedom to move

Just a few blocks away from the freedom to marry celebration, horses in art gallery were stripped of freedom to move

A NYC art gallery displayed 12 live horses for four days

A NYC art gallery displayed 12 live horses for four days

The New York Times described the live horse exhibit – “Untitled (12 Horses)” – as “stupendous,” but caring New Yorkers were not impressed. In fact, some showed up to protest.

The artist Jannis Kounellis, who says tying the horses to walls “makes a connection between the living element and the idea of solid foundations,” first created this exhibit in Rome in 1969. Oblivious to the outrage it would trigger in 2015, art dealer Gavin Brown brought Mr. Kounellis to his gallery in Greenwich Village to re-create it. For four days, the horses were tied to the wall for six to nine hours, rendering them unable to move around freely, lie down or scratch an itch.

Animal rights activists protest an art exhibit that consists of live horse

Animal rights activists protest an art exhibit with live horses

In a heated discussion at the gallery, Mr. Brown told TheirTurn’s Donny Moss that the horses were being treated humanely, with access to food, water and air conditioning. But, even if true, that misses the point, which, advocates say, is that animals are not props or “objects,” as the artist himself described the horses.

One of 12 horses tethered to the wall at Gavin Brown's art gallery in New York City

One of 12 horses tethered to the wall at Gavin Brown’s art gallery in New York City

It wasn’t only New Yorkers who registered their anger. People around the country flooded Mr. Brown with phone calls; expressed their anger on social media; and wrote scathing reviews online about the gallery. On Facebook, its rating dropped from 4.8 to 2.0 out 5. At least two media outlets wrote articles about the backlash. A story in the Gothamist, which had almost 200 comments, quoted TheirTurn’s Donny Moss: “Future generations will look at the photos of this animal exhibit and ask, ‘What were they thinking?'”

According to the NY Times, horses "relieving themselves" is a part of the experience of the exhibit

According to the NY Times, horses “relieving themselves” is a part of the experience of the exhibit

This is not the first time the Jannis Kounellis has used live animals. In his piece entitled “Fishbowl,” he placed a six inch chef’s knife into a bowl with live goldfish.

Artist Jannis Kounellis holds fish captive in a small bowl with a chef's knife

Artist Jannis Kounellis holds fish captive in a small bowl with a chef’s knife

An art news publication reported that Mr. Brown intends to re-create the exhibit yet again in a new gallery space. The backlash to this exhibit, however, has reportedly led to a change in plans. Starting on Friday, callers to the gallery were told that Mr. Brown would not be exhibiting the horses again.

Your Turn

Call Gavin Brown’s gallery to convey your point of view about the use of live animals in an art exhibit and ask him to cancel plans to re-create the exhibit in his new gallery space: 212-627-5258

Post a review of the gallery.

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Unmuzzled: Former Thoroughbred Breeder Exposes Horse Racing Abuse In Tell-All Book

October 30, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

When Michigan native Jo Anne Normile entered a granddaughter of Secretariat into racing in 1995, she thought the “Sport of Kings” was all about custom hats, mint juleps, shiny trophies and a blanket of red roses thrown over a gleaming horse. Soon after, however, she learned the truth – that racing is $40 billion gambling industry disguised as a sport – an industry that discards spent horses the way a casino trashes a bent deck of cards.

Jo Anne with Baby at one year old

Jo Anne with Baby at one year old

In 1991, before she became a racehorse breeder and owner, Normile was looking after a horse for a breeder. When the horse gave birth in her barn, Normile had to resuscitate the newborn, who wasn’t breathing. The life-affirming experience moved her to adopt the foal and name him Baby. A year later, Scarlett – the granddaughter of Secretariat – was born in the same barn stall. Both were sent to the track.

Three years later, after Baby shattered his leg on a racetrack due to negligence of the track owners, Normile came to a harsh realization: “When you mix animals and money, the animals will always lose.” And she asked herself, “How I can support racing? The horses spend 23 hours a day in their stalls. Injured horses are forced to run. Drugging and death are rampant. And the finish line is too often a slaughterhouse!” She immediately pulled Scarlett off the track – forever. She says that 15,000 to 20,000 Thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter every year, and many of them are loaded into trailers by kill buyers right behind the tracks.

In her book, SAVING BABY, Normile gives an uncensored account of what happens behind the scenes at the track and chronicles her journey from race to rescue. “When I learned that the abuse and neglect at my own track were endemic to the industry and watched owners sell their supposedly beloved horses for pennies on the pound, I decided to take my fight into the halls of government. After much stonewalling, I resolved to take it to the streets with this book. I want people to know the fate of the horses they watch race.”

Saving Baby

In addition to writing SAVING BABY and lobbying government officials, Normile, as part of her about-face, founded CANTER, a rescue group that, under her leadership, collected more than 4,000 “used up” thoroughbreds at the tracks and transported them to save havens. Today, she gives speeches on the truth about racing at equine events across the country. And she co-founded a new rescue, Saving Baby Equine Charity that rescues all equines at risk.

Jo Anne and Scarlett

Jo Anne and Scarlett

Your Turn

Now available in hardcover, Saving Baby can be purchased at bookstores and online. Readers contribute to the rescue of horses because a portion of proceeds from the sale of every book goes to her new rescue, SAVING BABY EQUINE CHARITY.

To stay apprised of efforts to expose and end horse racing in the United States, please “like” Horseracing Wrongs on Facebook.


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After Much Debate, Denmark to Ban Bestiality

October 13, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In response to an onslaught of negative press, Denmark is outlawing bestiality on the grounds that animals cannot consent to sex. Denmark is the last European country where sex with animals is legal, which explains why busloads of tourists from other countries travel there to engage in legal bestiality.

Animal rights activists have been lobbying for a ban for years, but authorities resisted due to fears that it could drive the worst offenders underground. Lawmakers also rejected the idea in the past because Denmark’s ethics advisory body said that a crime is not committed if the animal isn’t injured. That argument, however, was diminished by evidence of atrocities against animals used in the sex trade.


The 2014 documentary Animal F*ckers, which chronicles the efforts of animal rights activists to ban sex with animals, presented a nuanced view of the practice, informing viewers that zoophilia (attraction to animals) is, for some, a sexual orientation, not a fetish, and that “zoophiles” love and care for their animal companions.

In the film, Oliver Burdinski, a German man who speaks openly about his sexual relationship with his dog, says, “When I was 14 or 15, I wasn’t sure if it was right, so I tried to get human partners. But I was not happy with them. I tried to be normal. In 1994, I got internet and realized that I’m not alone.”

Oliver Burdinski says his huskie decides when they have sex.

Oliver Burdinski says his Siberian Husky decides when they have sex. (photo:


If Denmark outlaws bestiality on the grounds that the animals cannot consent, then will lawmakers take a closer look at other circumstances in which animals are exploited without their consent? Gestation crates on factory farms have been banned in other European countries, yet they’re still legal in Denmark. What pig would willingly reside in an indoor crate that is so small that she can’t turn around or lie down?

Filed under: Companion Animals, Victories
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