In the wake of the tragedy that followed the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Eight Belles’ fatal breakdown, alarming statistics reflecting the percentage of those who would support a horse racing ban were revealed by a recent Gallup poll.
Following the euthanasia of Eight Belles, who finished second in the Derby, then fractured both her front ankles in the gallop-out after the race, almost four in 10 Americans (38%) said they would favor altogether discontinuing sports that involve competition between animals.
“We need to do a better job helping the public understand all we do on a daily basis to care for our horses and provide the safest possible environment for them," Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said in response to the poll results. "The health and safety of our athletes is the number one priority of our industry.”
According to Gallup, unlike attitudes toward other moral issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and gay rights, there are relatively few significant differences in attitudes toward a ban on horse and dog racing among various demographic segments.
Women were slightly more in favor of banning racing than men, and those 18 to 29 favored a ban slightly more than older age groups. There was little difference in these attitudes by church attendance or by political party.
Results were based on telephone interviews, with 1,017 national adults 18 and up, conducted May 8-11.
In addition to the question about banning horse and dog racing, Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey updated a broader question about the treatment of animals, last asked in 2003. A quarter of Americans said animals deserve the same rights as humans, while almost all of the rest agreed animals should be given some protection from harm and exploitation.
Gallup reported that the aforementioned attitude toward the treatment of animals is virtually the same as it was five years ago.
At the same time, additional questions show that--as was the case for horse or dog racing--a minority of Americans are willing to go so far as to advocate an absolute ban on certain activities involving animals, including product testing and medical research.