L.A. Animal Board to Weigh Horse Racing Ban
Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 12:11 pm
The Los Angeles Board of Animal Services will consider a motion Tuesday recommending that the city go on record as supporting a ban on all activities related to horse racing.
Commissioner Roger Wolfson, who recently encouraged the board to pass a motion banning rodeos in the city, has placed an item on the board’s Tuesday agenda described as “Opposition to Horse Racing in the State of California.”
Its goal is to have the board recommend that the City Council draw up an ordinance that would prohibit horse racing and off-track betting in the city of Los Angeles.
“I’m hopeful that we can state a real stand — no city that I know about has taken a stand on this,” Wolfson told City News Service.
His unusual effort grew out of events at Santa Anita Park in nearby Arcadia, where 30 horses died during the winter/spring racing season that concluded in late June.
“We’re the department of animal services, not the department of companion animal services, and anything that affects the well-being of animals in Los Angeles is in our purview,” Wolfson said.
Wolfson told CNS he doesn’t view his proposal as symbolic.
“This wasn’t a political calculation,” he said. “Look, 30 horses have died at Santa Anita; that’s a nearby city. We’re concerned about it.”
The Los Angeles City Council has shown a willingness to take the lead on animal rights issues in recent years, including a ban on the use of bull hooks, a law prohibiting the display or renting out of elephants, snakes, tigers and other wild or exotic animals for many entertainment purposes, and a ban on the sale of animal fur that passed earlier this year and is slated to go into effect in early 2021.
The proposed ban on rodeos has yet to be reviewed by the council.
Wolfson’s horse-racing measure has the support of many animal rights activists, including Horseracing Wrongs — a New York-based group that advocates for a nationwide ban on the sport, and plans to be at Tuesday’s meeting.
The horse racing industry has pushed back on the idea of banning the sport in the face of the deaths, emphasizing the widespread enactment of safety protocols at California tracks since the Santa Anita deaths began drawing publicity in the spring.
Track workers, including jockeys and stable workers, have said shutting down the industry would lead to thousands of job losses.