Three Mares Found With Lip Tattoos Burned Off, Pennsylvania SPCA Investigating

by | 11.24.2016 | 9:26am
The practice of branding a lip tattoo onto a Thoroughbred for identification purposes will end in 2020

The Pennsylvania SPCA is investigating a case of cruelty after three Thoroughbred mares were purchased from the New Holland Horse Auction in Pennsylvania this week with their lip tattoos damaged. Veterinarians believe acid was used to burn the upper lips of the three horses, apparently to obscure the tattoo numbers.

According to Kelly Smith, director of Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Airville, Pa., the mares were in good body condition when they were purchased from New Holland and were otherwise in reasonably good physical health, independent of the damage to their mouths. Mentally, Smith believes, they are not doing as well.

Gillian Kocher, director of public relations and marketing for the Pennsylvania SPCA, said the organization is working with The Jockey Club and using DNA testing to definitively identify the mares. Veterinarians estimate they are between 12 and 18 years old.

“We are investigating the case of intentional mutilation, which we believe was done to obscure the identities of these horses,” said Kocher. “If anyone has further information which leads to those responsible, please call our cruelty hotline, 866-601-7722.”

Kocher said it's too early to determine the culpability of the person responsible for the mutilation in terms of violating any racetrack or state policies against knowingly making a horse available for slaughter.

Smith said this isn't the first case she has seen of a Thoroughbred being mutilated to obscure the tattoo number. Omega took in 8-year-old Thoroughbred Annabel Lee several weeks ago, and noticed she had a wound on her upper lip where Smith suspects someone tried to remove her tattoo. Annabel Lee is now recovered and has an adoption pending, according to the Omega website.

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