The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

April 19, 2014

Readers' Forum 4-19 | Push for passage of horse racing bill

JOHNSTOWN — On May 3, the first Triple Crown race, the Kentucky Derby, is set to be run.

Like most Americans, whenever we heard the phrase Triple Crown, it conjured for us images of pretty hats, mint juleps, rose garlands, silver trophies, jockeys in colorful silks and, most of all, beautiful and well-cared for horses. No more!

After reading Andrew Cohen’s March 24 Atlantic article, “The ugly truth about horse racing,” and following up with extensive, additional research, Triple Crown conjures for us only images of pain, cruelty, drug abuse and death.

What the horse racing industry doesn’t want the public to scrutinize is that:

-- An average of 24 horses die on U.S. racetracks every week.

-- The industry causes thousands of horses to be born, only to be abandoned to an existence of neglect and suffering.

-- Race horses frequently suffer injuries by being forced to race before their skeletal system has finished growing.

-- Because of the profit motive, race horses are routinely drugged so they can race even when injured.

For those who care deeply about the compassionate treatment of animals, the best thing readers can do for race horses is never attend or place a bet on any race.

In addition, we urge readers to contact Rep. Keith Rothfus and Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and ask them to support the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 (HB 2012; SB 973), which would increase oversight and penalties for overusing drugs in horse racing.

Al and Jane Rita

Westmont

More emphasis on mental health

Last week’s school stabbing was another in a series of acts of violence aimed at large groups of people in a public setting.

The acts have become more frequent during the past several years, and officials are attempting to find ways to prevent these attacks.

The perpetrators of these acts of violence are members of all age groups, income levels, nations, racial composition, educational level and other demographic groups.

Just as a sudden increase in the number and severity of any life-threatening occurrence prompts strong response by public health officials, so, too, should a strong, dramatic response be made to prevent these acts of violence from occurring.

The response that is needed is obvious: Our nation must greatly increase our attention to monitoring and treating the mental health of our citizens of all ages.

Public officials begin ministering to very young children with interventions such as vaccines and continue to monitor a child’s physical health and level of intellectual functioning throughout their years of primary education and beyond.

There is an extensive network of assistance to individuals of all ages who have a variety of special needs.

The question remains: Why can’t an intense mental health diagnostic and treatment program be implemented, far exceeding what is in now in place, specifically addressing the diagnosis and treatment of potentially violent individuals?

Something as simple as greatly increasing the presence of mental health professionals in our schools would provide clues to those children prone to mass violence.

Richard J. Holsinger

Johnstown

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