Cruelty or ‘culture,’ horse fights spark debate | Inquirer News
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Cruelty or ‘culture,’ horse fights spark debate

/ 08:56 PM July 19, 2011

LAKE SEBU, South Cotabato—As hundreds of people roared and cheered outside a makeshift wooden arena, bets flew over in a bloody fight.

There were no gladiators from the ranks of criminals, slaves or war prisoners, but two stallions that kicked at each other in a duel to win the heart of a white mare.

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“Horse fighting is an extremely cruel form of entertainment, and we receive many complaints from tourists about this blood sport,” Rochelle Regodon, campaign manager of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), said in an e-mail statement to the Inquirer.

Horses are forced to rip each other to spectators’ delight, and survivors often suffer serious injuries like broken bones and crushed cartilage, Regodon said.

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Over 30 duels involving 60 horses highlighted the weeklong T’nalak Festival of South Cotabato on July 13-16.

“Commonly, animals used to fight do not receive immediate veterinary attention, even when their injuries are severe. Many suffer and die from blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion or infection hours or days after a fight,” she said.

The Animal Welfare Act of 1998 specifically bans horse fighting. Section 6 categorically states it “unlawful to subject any dog or horse to dog fights or horse fights.”

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pinggoy could not be reached for comment, but a close aide said the event was conducted in the “context of culture.”

Spectators pay P50 each as entrance fee to game organizers. Those who could not afford climb trees or seek higher ground to watch for free.

A woman, who introduced herself as Emma, asked her husband if he would bet P200 for the white or brown horse. “Do you think the white one will win? Be sure you win because if not, we don’t have anything to eat at home,” she said.

A horse who runs from the fight twice is declared loser.

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TAGS: Animal Cruelty, Complaints, Duel, Entertainment, Fight, gambling, Horses, Injuries, Regions, Tourism
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