Tennessee District Attorneys General Urged To Investigate Possible Horse Abuse

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States has asked 11 Tennessee District Attorneys General to acquire and test all “foreign substance swab samples” collected from Tennessee walking show horses during 2012 and to prosecute violations of state animal cruelty laws. The samples are used to detect the presence of painful caustic chemicals that trainers apply to horses’ legs, in addition to other cruel training methods – collectively referred to as “soring” – to obtain the prized high-stepping gait of the walking horse.

“By prosecuting any violations that come to light through these samples under the new felony animal cruelty law, Tennessee will improve the chances that violators in the walking horse industry will think twice before abusing horses to cheat in show competitions,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS. “We encourage Tennessee District Attorneys General to demonstrate that illegal abuse and cruelty will not be tolerated, and that horse soring allegations will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.”

Foreign substance swab samples have been taken from the pasterns of walking horses at horse shows in Tennessee by the Walking Horse Trainers Association, and other groups throughout the year. The HSUS also asked the District Attorneys General to request the test results of swab samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at walking horse shows for possible enforcement action.

Since July 1, Tennessee’s new felony aggravated cruelty to livestock law has been in effect, making it a Class E felony for any person to apply “acid or other caustic substance or chemical to any exposed area of an animal or forcing the animal to ingest the substance,” if such activity is carried out in a “depraved and sadistic manner.”  According to The HSUS’s letter, any samples taken after that date that test positive for the presence of caustic chemicals could therefore indicate a possible violation of this law and be grounds for enforcement.

Under other Tennessee laws, the intentional infliction of any injury or pain to a horse for the purpose of competition is a class A misdemeanor.

To read the full letter from The HSUS, click here.

Facts:

  •  An HSUS undercover investigation documented the prevalent use of caustic chemicals to sore horses and led to a 52-count indictment of Jackie McConnell, who pleaded guilty to one count of felony conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act, and three of his associates. In September, a federal court sentenced him to three years of probation and a $75,000 fine.  McConnell also faces prosecution for violations of the Tennessee animal cruelty statute.
  • USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted random testing at various Tennessee walking horse competitions, and the results indicate that a shocking 97.6 percent of the samples tested positive for prohibited foreign substances in 2011. In 2010, 86 percent of samples tested positive. In addition to soring chemicals, these prohibited substances included numbing agents and drugs that mask evidence of abuse.
  • The HSUS filed a legal petition asking USDA to treat the use of illegal numbing or masking chemicals on horses’ legs as a felony under the Horse Protection Act.
  • H.R. 6388, the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 2012, sponsored by Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., will end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban the use of certain devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all those involved in this cruel practice. The HSUS urges Congress to pass this bill, which now has 53 co-sponsors in the House.

Catoosa County Arrest Report For Dec. 2-8

Click  here  for the Catoosa County arrest report for Dec. 2-Dec. 8. (click for more)

Hymes Arrested In Drug Bust On Sequoia Drive

Police have arrested a 49-year-old Brainerd man after a drug bust. Rodney Dewayne Hymes faces drug, drug paraphernalia and firearm charges. Police said he has multiple felony convictions. Hymes said he is disabled and has no other form of employment. In the raid at 424 Sequoia Dr., police found 37 grams of crack cocaine, 230 grams of marijuana, $5,323 in cash, drug items ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Senseless Divide

If I could change one thing about the schools in Chattanooga, my wish would be that everybody could become good friends. I’m talking about the private schools versus the public schools. The rancor is so bad we hardly ever play in sports anymore and what the loathsome TSSAA has done in recent years to the out-numbered private schools is sinful. My dream would be that there would ... (click for more)

Hixson's Courtney Jones Headed To Hiwassee

Courtney Jones is almost finished with one important segment of her life and she's not wasting any time getting on with the next part. Jones is currently a senior at Hixson High School, but she will graduate next week and heading to Madisonville where she will be playing volleyball at the college level for the Hiwassee Lady Tigers. Jones has been an integral part of Hixson's ... (click for more)

Walker Valley, Soddy Daisy Big Mat Winners

The Walker Valley Mustangs recorded pins in the first five matches and never looked back as they beat host Ooltewah in a prep wrestling match Thursday evening by a resounding 61-12 final. The match began at 120 pounds and James Jur put his team ahead with a first-period pin.  Cameron Dwyer, Ethan West, Dillon Clark and Zeth Haynie followed with pins and it never got any ... (click for more)