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August 8, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States Issues Statement in Death of Horse at Omak Suicide Race

Dan Paul, Washington state director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response to reports that a horse died during the preliminary trials for the annual Omak Suicide Race: 

“The Omak Suicide Race forces horses into a hazardous situation, inflicting stress, injuries, and possible death for the sake of competition. Horses are our companions and should not be placed at risk in an event that has such a terrible track record of fatalities. The stress and trauma endured by these horses make this type of racing unacceptable, and we call on race organizers to end this event before another horse is hurt or killed.”

Facts:   

  • Including the above, at least 23 horses reportedly have died during the race since 1983. It is unknown how many horses die or are seriously injured during training, the practice trials or after the race.
  • At least one horse died during the practice trials as witnessed by a Wall-Street Journal reporter in 2007.
  • In 2007 another horse was shot at his owner’s property shortly after surviving the race due to catastrophic post-race injuries. An HSUS employee witnessed another horse nearly drown during the practice trials.
  • During the race, horses are forced to run 120 yards at a full gallop off the cliff, down 210 feet, on a 60-degree slope. If the horse should survive the cliff, he is then forced to swim across the Omak River; depending on the depth of the river, horses may go under and nearly drown. The river and its banks are also covered in rocks and debris.
  • Horses who survive the death-defying practice trials are then forced to participate in the Suicide Race for four consecutive days. The Suicide Race is unlike any other horse racing or rodeo event and is the most dangerous such spectacle The HSUS is aware of,  for both horses and riders. 

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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