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Will the USDA repost horse soring abuse data to the internet?


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Last week  the U.S. Department of Agriculture removed information about cases of horse soring and other animal abuses from its website. Now the USDA says some of that information may be put back on the internet.

The federal agency is being sued by horse owners accused of abuses, saying their due process rights are being violated. A USDA spokesman says the agency is trying to find the right balance between privacy and public access.

But Marty Irby with the Humane Society of the United States says removing the enforcement information from the web reduces the pressure on the Walking Horse industry to weed out abusers.

“This could just cause soring to just bloom and grow because it would allow the violators to basically go unchecked. They’ll just sore horses even more and disregard the law even more because there’s no consequence now.”

Inspections at Walking Horse shows are continuing, violations are still being recorded, and the information remains available upon request. But its removal from the USDA website makes it far less accessible.

Irby says the records were on the federal website as a result of a 2005 lawsuit and the Humane Society will sue again to make sure they stay there. He says without vigorous oversight, he believes the Walking Horse industry and breed are headed toward extinction.

“The economics of this thing is that the breed has been declining so long in every area that if the problem’s not solved there’s not going to be a breed left.”

WMOT reached out the Walking Horse Celebration and the Walking Horse Trainers Association by email and phone on week ago for comment on this story, but received no response.