In collaboration with local animal rights organization Hakol Chai, both People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the British Animal Aid
organization sent letters to Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Orit
Noked on Monday, demanding that she prevent horse racing from coming to
Together, the three organizations are attempting to stop what
Hakol Chai says are plans to bring in horse racing and gambling, industries that
the groups say are ridden with cruelties and greed.
followed a Hakol Chai protest at the end of October against an Agriculture
Ministry decision to invest NIS 750,000 in horse breeding, which the
organization charged was going to be predominantly used for breeding racehorses
– an allegation the ministry denied.
The two international animal rights
bodies submitted their letters in honor of the upcoming International Animal
Welfare Day, which falls out on Saturday, according to a Hakol Chai
“We expect the agriculture minister to act according to the
Animal Protection Law, which the Agriculture Ministry is charged with enforcing,
and prevent this industry from establishing a toehold in Israeli culture,” said
Hakol Chai professional manager Tal Sahar in a statement.
Guillermo, vice president of PETA, urged Noked to do all she could to dissuade
the country from establishing a horse racing industry.
“Horseracing is an
industry fraught with cruelty,” Guillermo wrote. “Thoroughbreds are victims of
drug abuse, track and training conditions leading to injuries, over-breeding,
abandonment and premature death.”
Calling horses “victims of a system
that discards horses who no longer turn a profit,” Guillermo said that in 2011
alone, nearly 25,000 thoroughbreds had been foaled, and more than 10,000 had
been sent to slaughter, according to PETA investigations.
expressed concern that drugs, both legal and illegal, as well unusual substances
such as cobra venom, were being used to make horses run faster.
is already contending with a host of serious issues that adversely affect
horses, including water shortages, lack of land availability, inadequate animal
protection laws and shortage of humane enforcement officers,” she added. “If
horse racing is permitted, these problems will only worsen, to the detriment of
both humans and animals.”
Dene Stansall, horse racing consultant at
Animal Aid, called the industry “unethical,” emphasizing that it exploited both
horses and people. In his letter to Noked, he stressed that Israel should focus
on five different reasons to back away from the horseracing industry: horse
welfare as per the 1994 Animal Protection Law, the economics of the racing
industry, infrastructure, cultural aspects and the global racing
In the first category, Stansall pointed to the high incidences of
injury and mortality among the racehorses, as well as the “disposal” of
“unwanted animals” that occurs after their short careers. Meanwhile, he argued,
the over-breeding that is intrinsic to the industry causes surpluses of animals
that don’t make it to the races and have nowhere else to go.
economic concerns, he said that “it would be naïve to believe that horse racing
could generate any substantial income” for Israel. The industry would require
many more imports than exports, and the country would have trouble both selling
broadcasting rights to international corporations and maintaining a stable
betting market in such a relatively small population, he
Likewise, in terms of infrastructure, Israel would need to invest
huge amounts of money in a racecourse – an effort that already failed with a
course partially built in Gilboa, which Stansall said “would not stand up to
“A government ministry offer of over 750,000 NIS in
public funds to farms willing to breed race horses in Israel would be a huge
shortfall in establishing any successful commercial production,” he
“This would have no impact on local or global bloodstock markets
and is an extremely naïve venture. Israel simply could not compete. It lacks
‘quality’ broodmares and stallions, which singularly cost more [than] the
ministry’s proposed investment.”
He also stressed that Israel lacked any
incidence of horseracing in its culture, a fact he called “a prerequisite to
failure” in a world where the sport is highly unstable.
In response to
the letters received on Monday, the ministry said that its NIS 750,000
investment simply aimed to bring the local horse-breeding industry up to the
standards of other Western nations, in areas such as promoting their welfare,
their growth, their training and treatment.
“These ministerial activities
are not designed to provide services to [a hippodrome], but to satisfy fittingly
an emerging industry in a large number of aspects that are not related to
running a hippodrome,” a statement from the ministry said.
ministry said it expected that this investment, along with the office’s decision
to publish acceptable practices for horse breeding, would “propel the
professionalization of the horse industry in Israel” and enhance therapeutic,
rehabilitative and sport riding. The industry will also increase employment
opportunities and community services for periphery residents, the statement
Currently all horseracing takes place under the supervision of the
ministry’s Veterinary Services, and since procedures for such events were
established in December 2006, no accidents have occurred whatsoever, according
to the ministry.
“The Agriculture Ministry and the minister who heads it
attach great importance to maintaining the welfare of animals in general and of
racehorses in particular, according to the strictest standards accepted
internationally,” the statement said.