PETA Calls Out Ag Dept: President Ray Keck makes changes in response to past animal rights violations.

Spencer Nelson, Staff Reporter

When the new president came to the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dr. Keck brought a zero tolerance policy for the neglect and mistreatment of university-owned animals, after reading about an incident involving the death of a pregnant, A&M-Commerce-owned horse.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) posted a picture on their Instagram account last month of a pregnant horse being observed for research after it was euthanized (put to death). The horse was put down in the fall semester of 2014 after it was suffering from a hoof injury and was allowed to breed.

PETA tagged the school’s Instagram account and geo-tagged their post at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Administration reacted by requesting PETA to take it down.

Though the horse had an injury in its pastern and heel area, the mare was bred. The pregnancy took a toll on the horse’s health and only put it in more agony.

The school’s agriculture department went through an internal investigation for the actions that were taken and checked if the horse was legally put down and treated in an ethical way.

To go through with the euthanization process, protocol is that a veterinarian has to authorize it. The attending veterinarian at the time did give the authorization for the horse to be put down.

“The horse was euthanized because of the intense pain [it was causing for the horse] that the attending vet could perceive,” Noah Nelson, Director of Media Relations for TAMUC, said. “So, in order to be merciful, she was euthanized.”

PETA posted the story on Facebook and on their website,, which Nelson described as mostly an echo chamber of comments from PETA.

After the first internal investigation, President Keck fired anyone in charge of the animals owned by the university agriculture department and replaced them.

In August, the previous director of agriculture was replaced by Dr. Randy Harp, who recently worked as professor of animal science at Tarelton State University. Dr. Harp and the rest of the new leaders will work with the university oversight committee responsible for the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and animal welfare.

“I agree with Dr.Keck’s zero tolerance policy,” Harp said in an email on Saturday. “In addition to the attending veterinarian that provides oversight, we currently have a local DVM [Doctor of Veterinary Medicine] on call to provide care for all animals. In the future, we plan on having a full-time DVM on staff at the university”

“Since arriving, I have been impressed each day by the high quality of the work and the community at this university,” Dr. Keck said in a press release back in August. “Unfortunately, my review of the care and past oversight of animals on our campus, particularly in our agriculture department, proved to be an exception. I have determined that our performance in this area has been inadequate and far short of the high standards I pledged to uphold at this institution”

Keck believes that the university’s efforts for the care of the animals bolster the work of supervisors in the agriculture department.