PETA still is horsing around
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals needed all of a nanosecond to work itself into a lather following the death of Eight Belles at the Kentucky Derby.
The fringe group, in a letter dispatched to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority the day after Eight Belles was euthanized on the track, seeks the suspension of jockey Gabriel Saez, a ban on whips, limits on races and softer track surfaces.
That is the misguided ninnies of PETA for you. They never have met a situation they could not spin to pump up their religious-like crusade.
They can work up all kinds of tears around a controlled hunt designed to thin a deer herd. Yet those tear ducts are inactive after a motorist slams into a spooked deer on the highway and dies.
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s Britishborn co-founder and president who seeks “total animal liberation” because it is only conceit that allows humans to think they are better than those creatures down the food chain.
Newkirk, who routinely makes anti-human comments, misses an elementary point. As an animal, she must know animals prey on one another to survive. It is the law of the jungle, although we humans like to pretend otherwise.
Newkirk and her congregation are horrified by the horse racing industry, whose pecking order might surprise those on the outside. A thoroughbred with impeccable bloodlines leads a far more pampered existence than many trainers and jockeys.
I worked on a thoroughbred farm in my youth and came to know a horse-obsessed subculture that might have pleased PETA. No expense was spared with the horses, fussed over each day by attendants and trainers. Theirs was a pretty good life that featured a state-of-the art stable with air conditioning.
Consider the life of a horse jockey, fraught as it is with peril both on and off the track.
Most jockeys fight one constant enemy: weight.
And they wage the fight with draconian measures: diet pills, rubber suits, hot boxes and regurgitation.
The Kentucky Derby riders were allowed to weigh what is an almost unseemly 126 pounds, considering weight assignments can be as low as 110 in other venues.
You won’t hear PETA express one concern about the long-term health issues before jockeys. Or about the inept Jockeys’ Guild, the financially strapped labor union whose mission is to look out for the best interests of its 1,300 licensed riders in the United States.
What you hear from PETA is a whole lot of radical blather that is especially insulting to those rural Americans who still derive much of their sustenance from our streams and forests.
Many of these Americans hunt and fish because of financial necessity. Many do not have access to the pretentious grocery chains that decorate our urban jungles.
Not that this would bother Newkirk and her cult.
As Newkirk once said: “Humans have grown like a cancer. We’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth.”
And perhaps we are. And perhaps Newkirk could do her ittybitty part by turning over her small piece of space on this planet to a precious cockroach or rat.
Of course, PETA wants the obligatory investigation into the death of Eight Belles and wonders whether the jockey felt the filly in stress during the course of the race. If the jockey felt nothing unusual, a PETA spokeswoman said, “then we can probably blame the fact that they’re allowed to whip the horses mercilessly.”
In the mixed-up world view of PETA, either the jockey or the industry is at fault.
Eight Belles trainer Larry Jones has defended the jockey and dismissed the self-serving claims of PETA.
He noted that Eight Belles looked in fine shape after crossing the finish line.
Soon enough, the filly dropped to the track after breaking both front ankles.
And right on cue, PETA saw an opportunity to exploit an unfortunate incident.
Veterinarians euthanized Eight Belles moments after she fractured two ankles in the Kentucky Derby.