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.

Chattanooga Man Charged With Murder In Johnson City

A Chattanooga man has been charged with killing another man in Johnson City, Tn. Amando Stewart, 22, of 1701 Oak St., was arrested for second-degree murder in the death late Sunday night of LeDearrius Young, 24. When police arrived at an apartment on Mint Hill Road, they found the victim lying on the kitchen floor. Stewart was found in a vehicle outside the apartment. ... (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Feb. 23-March 1

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Feb. 23-March 1: CLAIRE KATHY SUE W/F 63 Officer COKER DUI, FAILURE TO MAINTAIN LANE PITTAMN TALIA RENAE W/F 26 Officer HOLLAND FAILURE TO APPEAR (M) WHITED CHRIS DALE W/M 26 Officer SUMMERS BENCH WARRANT BENTLEY KENNETH WAYNE W/M 38 Officer VANDYKE RETURN FROM HMC JUV JUV ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)

Region 3-AA Boys Final At Chattanooga State Monday

The fifth meeting between the Brainerd Panthers and the Central Purple Pounders will be held at Chattanooga State on Monday night with the tipoff set for 7 p.m. This upcoming game will be the biggest to date as it's for the Region 3-AA boys championship. Monday's winner will be at home on Tuesday for a sectional game while the loser will be on the road Tuesday night.  Brainerd ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: Who Was Skip Viall?

The 2015 class of the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame will be inducted tonight at the Trade Center and among the inductees is Paul Jackson "Skip" Viall in the media category. Since the new inductees were announced several weeks ago, I've heard this same question asked over and over again; "Who is Skip Viall?" Some even suggested the HOF committee didn't do their homework ... (click for more)