A motion to ask the Los Angeles City Council to oppose horse racing in the state of California failed to pass during Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services, when only three of the five commissioners showed up for the meeting.
Two of those three voted in favor of Commissioner Roger Wolfson’s motion, but three votes were needed for passage.
After the vote, Wolfson — whose unusual effort grew out of the recent spate of horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in nearby Arcadia, where at least 30 horses died during the winter/spring racing season — signaled his intention to bring up the motion again at a future meeting.
Wolfson had considered proposing a ban on off-track betting and other horse-racing activities in the city, but he settled on the broader language of simply opposing the sport in the entire state.
Advocates for and against horse racing spoke passionately about the issue for almost an hour Tuesday night at the LAAS’s bi-monthly meeting, held at the city’s South Los Angeles animal shelter.
In the end, Wolfson and Commissioner Jose Sandoval voted for the motion, while Commissioner Larry Gross opposed it, citing his concern over the potential loss of jobs if the sport were to be banned statewide.
“The fact is, an action like this doesn’t take into consideration the workers that are working there that have devoted their lives to the caring for the horses, so I think we need to think of both parties that are impacted by this,” Gross said.
Wolfson called it a “massive stretch” to imply that “by us passing a motion to oppose horse racing … it’s going to lead to people losing their homes.” He cited efforts in Asia to transform elephant tourist parks into sanctuaries, suggesting the same thing could be done for racehorses here.
“This sort of thing is being done all over the world, and certainly it can be done in California, one of the most liberal states in the country.”
It was unclear when the motion might come up again.
The Los Angeles City Council has shown a willingness to take the lead on animal rights issues in recent years, including a ban on the use of bull hooks, a law prohibiting the display or renting out of elephants, snakes, tigers and other wild or exotic animals for many entertainment purposes, and a ban on the sale of animal fur that passed earlier this year and is slated to go into effect in early 2021.
The proposed ban on rodeos has yet to be reviewed by the council.
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