Animal funds

Animal Wellness Action Executive Director Marty Irby discusses horse breeding, slaughter and doping with WRGC ‘The River’

WRGC The River Logo

Tennessee State Archives building displays 'Big Lick'

Tennessee State Archives building displays ‘Big Lick’

AWA’s lobbying efforts secured record $3 million in USDA funding to implement the Horse Protection Act in 2022

We greatly appreciate Roy Burnette and WRGC for giving us the opportunity to discuss the terrible abuse that continues to plague our iconic American equines.

— Marty Irby, Executive Director of Animal Wellness Action

SYLVA, North Carolina, USA, March 29, 2022 / — Today, Animal welfare action (AWA) Executive Director Marty Irby discussed the Tennessee Walking Horses plague, horse slaughter and Thoroughbred horse trainer Bob Baffert’s latest notorious scandals with Roy Burnette on WRGC “The River” in Sylva, North Carolina.

The AWA worked to pass U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings’ PAST (Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act through the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019, and lobbied government officials. appropriation to Congress to include the highest ever funding levels for the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970. The fiscal year 2022 spending program to fund the government has been signed into law this month and included a record $3,040,000 for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fight plagues and better implement HPA in 2022.

Until 2019, federal funding for HPA enforcement had never exceeded $705,000 in a single fiscal year. AWA, which was formed in 2018, has made funding the HPA a top priority in the war to end “soring” – the intentional infliction of pain on the front limbs of horses to induce an artificial gait known as of “big lick” which is prized. Tennessee Horse Shows in the Southeastern United States

The broader equine community and the animal welfare world have long recognized that the HPA’s lack of law enforcement funding has contributed to the painful events in Tennessee and Kentucky. AWA also helped secure HPA funding in the amount of $1,000,000 for fiscal year 2020 and $2,009,000 for fiscal year 2021 in conjunction with Tennessee walking horse industry leaders who admitted that the pain must stop, and members of the Tennessee and Kentucky congressional delegations.

Members of Congress who have done the lifting with AWA and Walking Horse Leaders to secure this new funding include Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Ron Estes, R-Kansas, Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., John Rose, R-Tenn., as well as Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, John Kennedy, R-La., Cory Booker, DN.J., and incumbent Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama where soring has long flourished and also plagued the Yellowhammer State “Alabama Racking Horse” breed. Members on both sides of the aisle applied for credits at the behest of Animal Wellness Action and walking horse breed leaders who also got $300,000 for APHIS to start using swabbing , X-rays, thermography and other science-based testing methods as part of its testing protocols.

The AWA also lobbied to maintain the de facto ban on horse slaughter on U.S. soil through the appropriations process that cancels funding for inspection of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. and is in in force for more than a decade. This provision was also enacted and prevents the slaughter of American equines in the United States in FY22.


Animal Wellness Action (AWA) is a Washington, DC-based 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to help animals by promoting legal standards prohibiting cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of pets, farm animals and wildlife. We advocate for policies to end dog and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to combat factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we encourage good public policies and work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we need to elect good legislators, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our problems and which don’t. We believe that helping animals helps us all.

Marty Irby
Animal welfare action
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Interview with Marty Irby and WRGC