Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act , S.1007, to protect horses from the abusive practice known as “soring,” in which show horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait rewarded in show rings.
Although federal law currently prohibits soring, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue this inhumane practice.
“Horses have been a part of our Commonwealth’s history and culture since the settling of Jamestown, and like all animals, they deserve to be treated with care and compassion,” said Sen. Warner. “The PAST Act will further protect these animals from the cruel practice of inflicting deliberate pain and suffering for show purposes.”
“I support the humane treatment of all animals and the responsible training of horses,” said Sen. Crapo. “I remain committed to ending the cruel practice of soring, and will continue to promote enforcement of current animal welfare laws.”
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:
In 2017, the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) moved to strengthen certain aspects of the Horse Protection Act by incorporating some of the major tenets of the PAST Act. However, the rule was not finalized before the end of the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration has halted the process. The PAST Act would codify these changes into law.
Joining Warner and Crapo in the introduction of The PAST Act, S.1007, are U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Humane Society of the United States released footage Thursday it says shows evidence of continued abuse to the Tennessee Walking Horse, further confirming the use of soring in the industry.
Soring is the practice of intentionally abusing a horse to accentuate its gait and often includes the use of caustic chemicals that eat away at the skin. Those who sore cause horses pain each time they step so they lift their front legs in an exaggeration of their natural gait in what is called the "big lick."
The video was taken by the United States Department of Agriculture in an inspection of the Maryville, Tenn., barn of top trainer Larry Wheelon in April 2013 and obtained with an open records request. The horses can be seen struggling to stand, walking stiffly and flinching away from the inspectors' touch. Photos from the same inspection show what appear to be scars around the horses' pasterns.
The video release comes as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville goes into its final days for 2016, and as what appeared to be a sored stallion was discovered at an auction in Cookeville on Tuesday. The Horse Protection Act prohibits sored horses from participating in auctions, shows, exhibitions or sales.
Wheelon, who was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals, had 15 felony charges and three misdemeanors dropped, according to the Humane Society, when Blount County Judge Tammy Harrington ruled his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated in the raid.
When he was arrested in 2013, Wheelon was an active member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers Association, sitting on its ethics committee. He did not respond to a request to comment made through his lawyer.
The USDA has since proposed some amendments to the Horse Protection Act.
One of those changes would mean the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would train and license Designated Qualified Persons to inspect the horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions for compliance with the HPA, whereas now, they are initiated and maintained by horse industry organizations. Many argue the current setup poses a conflict of interest.
Another amendment would ban the use of all action devices, pads and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions, aligning the HPA regulations with existing equestrian standards set forth by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.
The USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed amendments until Sept. 26, but some have asked the organization to extend that deadline by 60 more days. Doing so could push the decision off onto a new administration that may not prioritize an end to soring.
Mike Inman, CEO of Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, denied that the stacks and chains cause horses to experience pain. Stacks are elevated pads attached to the horses' front hooves like high heels, and the chains are wrapped around their ankles.
"There is no big lick gait," Inman said. "Animal welfare is number one for The Celebration."
He said each horse must pass as many as 13 inspections by those belonging to horse industry organizations and the USDA, which test for foreign chemicals, palpation, locomotion, CT scanning and digital radiography.
"We urge the USDA to move away from subjective inspection and toward objective inspection," he said, arguing that digital radiography is the only objective exam. "We don't want any sore horse in the ring."
But Keith Dane, senior adviser on equine protection for The Humane Society of the United States, said some can fool the machine by making a ball out of hoof clippings and acrylic to match the density of the surrounding tissue.
Inman said no one has ever been disqualified for placing a foreign object between the shoe and the hoof at The Celebration, a practice called pressure shoeing.
The horse must also be clear of visible scars.
"If (the soring) is done to the extent where it causes physical damage, they can't show them anymore," said Tawnee Preisner, founder of the Horse Plus Humane Society. "They're worthless to them after that."
Preisner said she found Skywalks Magical Dream, a 4-year-old registered Tennessee Walking Horse stallion on stacks with chains, dumped at an auction on Tuesday. She took him to an equine veterinarian, who documented the damage and scarring on the horse's skin. Dream's last owners are listed as Sammy and Gayle Cogle, the owners of last weekend's champion Extra Special Jose.
Sammy Cogle said they were no longer in possession of the horse as of last January. "I'm sorry but the lawyers told me not to say anymore."
Preisner said it's the third time she's found sored horses at an auction in Tennessee.
Dane estimates there are up to 15,000 horses put on stacks and sored at any given time. He urged the USDA to pass the reforms to stop the remaining abusers.
"The culture is evolving," he said, comparing the competition of sored horses to dogfighting or cockfighting. "People are turning away more and more."
Source: The Tennessean
Those interested in submitting a comment to the USDA can do so at: http://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2011-0009.
Congressman Ed Whitfield defends interaction between his official actions and his wife’s lobbying.
Ethics experts said that the Whitfields could be violating House rules through their joint lobbying for legislation, although these experts cautioned that it isn’t a cut-and-dried case.
“If it were Boeing and they were doing this, it would be a really big deal,” said Melanie Sloan, head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. While Sloan applauded the Whitfields for disclosing their activities — something that has been one of the major problems in other ethics cases — she said the joint lobbying of members and staffers is troubling.
“I can’t see a flat-out ethics violation, but I can certainly see it creates an appearance problem, and it would seem like the better course would be for them not to be lobbying together; that seems inappropriate to me,” Sloan said.
Veteran ethics lawyer Stanley Brand said the activity does raise questions because lawmakers aren’t supposed to gain personal benefit from their official duties.
“It’s not that easy to get from those general standards to a violation,” Brand said. “There have been cases before where spouses have been registered lobbyists and their husbands or wives are on committees where those companies have interest and that’s never been enough to get you to a violation.”
Whitfield is hardly alone when it comes to lawmakers with relatives who lobby. Dozens of congressional relatives are registered lobbyists, and oftentimes, lawmakers with family ties on issues weigh in on legislative proposals. Congress cracked down on ethics reforms in 2007, banning spouses from lobbying a member’s personal office staff and the lawmaker. Other lawmakers whose relatives have lobbied include: the wife of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) as a lobbyist at Kraft Foods and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), whose father — former Rep. Bud Shuster — served as a contract lobbyist.
Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle defended Harriman-Whitfield’s involvement pushing the horse legislation.
“I think sometimes when folks look at issues like this, they nitpick on it as a conflict of interest and I just want to say, No. 1, there is a real difference in working for a coal company or an oil company or any big business, pharmaceutical company and working for a nonprofit organization where there is no financial incentive to gain as an institution,” Pacelle said. “The track record of both Connie and Ed is deep involvement in animal welfare far preceding Connie’s involvement in the Humane Society. She came to the Humane Society because she was already very, very involved on these issues personally.”
Further, Pacelle said that he meets with Whitfield to discuss legislative issues, not Harriman-Whitfield. Pacelle said he didn’t see anything wrong with Whitfield and his wife personally lobbying his colleagues together on the issue of animal cruelty.
“It’d be a shame if our society didn’t allow spouses to advocate for ending poverty in the world, or advancing other core values of our society. I’m not sure what she’s supposed to do, just be mute on these issues with his colleagues,” Pacelle said.
Harriman-Whitfield has a history of advocating against animal cruelty long before joining the Humane Society Legislative Fund in 2007. As assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior under President George H.W. Bush, Harriman-Whitfield is credited with playing a major role in instituting the U.S. and worldwide ban on the elephant ivory trade.
Harriman-Whitfield now serves as senior policy adviser for the Humane Society Legislative Fund and has been engaged in federal lobbying since early 2011. During this two-year period, the HSLF spent $90,000 on in-house lobbying activities, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports. An outside lobbying firm billed the organization an additional $60,000 so far this year, according to another report.
Whitfield’s annual financial disclosure report does not include his wife’s compensation from the Humane Society.
For his part, Whitfield said his standing with the Humane Society hasn’t always been good, although he provided POLITICO with a long list of legislation he has offered dealing with animal welfare during his time in Congress.
“Sometimes I’ve had a good record with them and sometimes I have not had a good record with them, but I’ve been involved in a multitude of issues, so from my perspective there absolutely is no violation of ethics laws and if someone thinks there is they can file a complaint,” Whitfield said, noting that he has a 62 percent rating in the group’s 2013 midterm score card.
Source: Politico by John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer
Curb the rampant soring and sadistic abuse of animals that has made Tennessee the epicenter of horse abuse in the world
A Congressional hearing is scheduled in Washington next week for a federal bill (HR 1518) that is aimed in a very direct way at the scandalous Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The bill, along with one called S 1406 in the Senate, seeks to strongly curb the rampant soring and sadistic abuse of animals that has made Tennessee the epicenter of horse abuse in the world and will hopefully strengthen the now-toothless federal Horse Protection Act of 1971.
Thus far a whopping 216 members of Congress – 152 Democrats and 64 Republicans -- have stepped forward to co-sponsor the bill, called the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act, that was introduced By Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) and Steve Cohen (D-TN). The Senate bill, sponsored by Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), now has 26 co-sponsors but what is unfathomable is the lack of Tennessee politicians who have come forward to support the bills.
Perhaps they are ashamed that there is even a need for federal legislation but the better notion is that the “Dirty Lick” crowd in Shelbyville has used its political sway to make such men as our two Senators – Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker – join those wretched souls who turn a blind eye on animal abuse in order to win a blue ribbon. Why else wouldn’t Lamar and Bob jump at the chance to rid their own state of such a hideous cancer?
Further, a check on a government website shows that of Tennessee’s nine members of the House, only Rep. Cohen has had the courage to stand up for the bill. The other state representatives are David “Phil” Roe (R-Johnson City), John “Jimmy” Duncan (R-Knoxville), Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper), Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), Diane Black (R-Gallatin), Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), and Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump, in Crockett County).
It is widely-known that Rep. DesJarlais has deep ties to the seedy Shelbyville-based crowd. He was given a fundraising party at last year’s world Celebration and has hounded the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, on behalf of the Dirty Lickers who are responsible for the now-sullied reputation of a breed that was once considered among Tennessee’s greatest treasures.
It is also widely known the Dirty Lickers have been lobbying in Washington since the bipartisan bill was introduced but with an all-star cast of over 100 veterinary, equine and other animal advocates in solid support of the legislation, even the dumbest politicians can recognize those who elect them are overwhelmingly in favor of eradicating horse abuse in Tennessee and neighboring states where soring takes place.
An informal but carefully conducted poll of the Breeders Association recently revealed that 65 percent of its active members supported the PAST Act, this despite a Board of Directors that includes some who have actually been cited for soring their horses with abrasive chemicals in hopes of an unnatural high-stepping gait that is, in a word, “grotesque” to true horsemen around the world.
Since an undercover tape of former Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell viciously beating and torturing horses appeared in 2011, the Walking Horse industry – and the state of Tennessee – has been put under a microscope for its indifference to horse abuse. Both senators and every member of the state’s Congressional delegation are well aware that the notoriety gave way to the fact the state’s horse industry is a national embarrassment that badly reflects on their constituency. The vast majority of Tennesseans are not amused by the Dirty Lickers and their ongoing misdeeds.
But now that Congress is on the brink of passing the bill – only 240 votes are needed – where are Tennessee’s representatives? All are up for reelection in 2014, along with Senator Alexander, and only a fool wouldn’t realize how they vote on the PAST Act will carry over to the polls. People will not only notice how the state’s representatives will vote but they will also be reminded by opposing candidates during next year’s campaigning for votes.
It is curious that in the one state of America where leadership to stop horse abuse is most needed, it is discovered to be most lacking. Curious indeed.
Source: The Chattanoogan, by Roy Exum firstname.lastname@example.org
PROTECT HORSES FROM THE CRUELTY OF SORING!
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406 / H.R. 1518) will amend the Horse Protection Act to end the industry’s failed system of self-policing, ban the use of devices implicated in the practice of soring, strengthen penalties, and make other reforms needed to finally end this torture. Click Here to contact your legislators: Urge them to cosponsor and support the PAST Act!
Source: Humane Society Legislative Fund
Though the work is far from done, this is shaping up to be a very encouraging year for animals on the appropriations front. We already reported on the House Appropriations Committee’s approval of solid funding levels to support USDA’s enforcement of key animal welfare laws, as well as its inclusion of much-needed language to stop horse slaughter plants from operating in the U.S. The Senate Appropriations Committee followed suit with parallel language de-funding USDA inspections att horse slaughter plants.
Now we’ve learned that the Senate Appropriations Committee has also come through with terrific news on funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement and implementation of key animal welfare laws. Thanks to the strong leadership of Chairman Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Ranking Member Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the Committee bill contains the full amounts requested by President Obama in his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2014—which include substantial increases for several programs, notwithstanding the pressure to cut spending overall. The committee understood that it’s possible to achieve macro-level cuts while still taking care to ensure that specific small and vital accounts have the funds they need.
Here are details of what the Senate committee approved:
•$893,000 for USDA’s enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to end the cruel practice of “soring” show horses (deliberately inflicting severe pain on the horses’ legs and hooves to make it hurt for them to step down, so they will exaggerate their high-stepping gait and win prizes). This is well above the current funding level of $678,510, as well as the House committee bill’s level of $500,000.
•$28,203,000 for USDA’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, which sets basic standards for care of animals at almost 28,000 sites across the country—commercial breeding facilities (including puppy mills), laboratories, roadside zoos, circuses, and airlines. Current funding of AWA oversight is $26,406,304 and the House committee bill provides $27,087,000.
•$16,350,000 for USDA’s Investigative and Enforcement Services division, whose responsibilities include investigation of inspectors’ findings regarding alleged violations of federal animal welfare laws and the initiation of follow-up enforcement actions. Current funding is $15,866,009 and the House committee bill provides $16,275,000.
•$89,902,000 for USDA’s Office of Inspector General, which covers many areas including investigations and audits of the agency’s enforcement efforts to improve compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, Horse Protection Act, Humane Methods of
Slaughter Act, and regulations to protect downed animals. The Senate committee report specifically flags the OIG’s work to address animal fighting violations under the AWA, in coordination with state and local law enforcement. Current funding for the OIG is $86,779,028 and the House bill provides $86,779,000.
•Helpful committee report language directing the Food Safety and Inspection Service to ensure that funds provided for Humane Methods of Slaughter Act enforcement will be used to ensure compliance with humane handling rules for live animals as they arrive and are offloaded and handled in pens, chutes, and stunning areas. Similar language is in the House committee report and was included last year for FY13 Agriculture Appropriations.
•$4,790,000 for the veterinary student loan program that helps ease the shortage of veterinarians practicing in rural communities and in government positions (such as those overseeing humane slaughter, AWA, and HPA rules), by repaying student debt for those who choose to practice in one of these underserved areas. Current funding is $4,669,627 and the House bill provides $4,790,000.
Whether an animal welfare law will be effective often turns on whether it gets adequately funded. Having legislators seek that funding is crucial, especially when there are such strong competing budget pressures. We are grateful to Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La., who reached out to their colleagues and mobilized a broad showing of 34 Senators voicing bipartisan support for these animal welfare funds, as did Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., marshaling the support of 164 Representatives in the House. Their collective efforts set the stage for positive committee action,
which in turn has put us in a strong position for good outcomes in the House-Senate negotiations.
We will continue to watch the appropriations process closely and press for the highest possible amounts when the House and
Senate reach agreement on the final legislation. Proper enforcement of these laws not only helps animals but benefits people, too—for example, by protecting consumers from disreputable puppy mills and from mishandling of pets on airlines, reducing food safety risks associated with poor management at slaughter plants, and reducing the risk of bird flu transmission via cockfighting. Our fortunes are intertwined with those of animals, and doing right by them is good policy for all of us.
Former Hall of Fame Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell and two associates have entered guilty pleas to charges of abusing horses in violation of the Tennessee cruelty to animals statute. McConnell pled guilty to 22 counts of animal cruelty, and in order to avoid jail time, agreed to a sentence of one year of house arrest followed by four years of supervised probation, a $25,000 fine, and he is prohibited from owning and training horses for 20 years. Co-defendants John Mays and Jeff Dockery pleaded guilty to 17 counts of animal cruelty and will be subject to supervised probation.
The state is seeking forfeiture of eight horses seized from McConnell’s training barn to ensure the animals are permanently rehomed and retired from the abusive show industry. At the state’s request, The Humane Society of the United States has been providing the horses with intensive rehabilitative care for more than a year.
A Fayette County Grand Jury indicted McConnell and his co-defendants in March 2013. Those charges, along with McConnell’s federal felony conviction for charges related to conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act, stemmed from a 2011 undercover investigation conducted by The Humane Society of the United States that revealed McConnell and his associates
brutally beat horses and used painful chemicals on horses’ legs in a cruel practice known as “soring.” Soring is the method trainers use to force Tennessee walking horses to perform the exaggerated, artificial gait known as the “Big Lick.” McConnell is already serving three years’ probation and has been fined $75,000 on the federal conviction.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said: “The abusive training methods used by McConnell and
his associates are appalling and a clear violation of the law. He fully deserved the stiff sentence handed down as justice for the horses who were beaten over the head, shocked with a cattle prod in the face, or sored so painfully just to win a blue ribbon.”
The HSUS applauds District Attorney Mike Dunavant and Assistant District Attorney Mark Davidson for vigorously prosecuting this case, the assistance provided by USDA’s Office of Inspector General and APHIS Animal Care employees, and supports the state’s request to protect the victimized horses from being returned to their owners, who placed them in McConnell’s care.
- Since July 1, 2012, Tennessee’s new felony aggravated cruelty to livestock law has created 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”
- Some in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry deny that soring is still a pervasive part of the training process used to produce the “Big Lick,” but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s testing at the 2012 National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., revealed that 145 horses out of 190 tested, or 76 percent, were found positive for prohibited foreign substances
- A 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General audit exposed how those in the walking horse industry work to evade detection, rather than comply with federal law and train horses humanely. The audit stated that the USDA needs more funding for full enforcement of the Act.
Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, email@example.com
Source: The Chattanoogan, by Roy Exum
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam did the right thing when he vetoed an Ag-Gag bill that the Tennessee Legislature had approved on Monday. If approved, the bill would have violated the U.S. Constitution. Similar laws have failed in 11 states this year because they also are travesties to justice -- punishing the reporter instead of the criminal, and greatly hamper law enforcement efforts. So what do the crooks do now? It’s real easy.
The U.S. House Agriculture Committee will meet Wednesday in Washington to “mark up” the Farm Bill. This is where those on the committee have five minutes in which they can change certain parts of the bill by offering amendments if they are approved by committee.Believe it or not, there are some evil people on the Agricultur committee.There are two of these amendments creating a great stir among animal welfare groups.
The first is totally outlandish. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wants to take away the state’s right to regulate how their food is prepared. His plan would eliminate all local and county ordinances. Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, told me over the weekend, “The King Amendment is a threat to every consumer and to every animal in agriculture.”
Here is an example: This morning a “dirty lick” horse trainer, Larry Wheelon, will be hauled before a court in Maryville, Tenn., for aggravated animal abuse. King’s amendment would supersede state laws and Wheelon would really love that because he and others like him would have far weaker laws than Tennessee’s new felony to slip past. As it stands Wheelon is looking at one-to-five years in prison, but – under existing federal laws – animal abuse is still a misdemeanor. (There is another bill pending that would greatly enhance the federal Horse Protection act.)
The King Amendment would effectively overturn every voter-approved animal welfare effort in the country. It is unknown whether Rep. King is any kin to author Stephen King, but the Iowa Congressman is more horrifying. Imagine no state laws for environmental protection, workers’ rights, animal welfare or public health. The action is so far-reaching it is deplorable that it would even be introduced. King has spent 10 years trying to block any and all animal welfare laws. He even opposes laws that would include pets in disaster planning. Obviously driven by “big ag” money – the food industry – King’s amendment would – what! – allow horses to be slaughtered for food, encourage extreme confinement for chickens, pigs and calves; the list goes on and on.
The second amendment being considered is closer to home. It is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at an animal fight, but only 43 states outlaw cock fighting. Drive in any direction from Chattanooga and within the hour you can see where fighting roosters are being housed. That’s because there is money to be had from fighting dogs and chickens.
You would think that when NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 18 months in Leavenworth it would serve a deterrent, but, no, shallow people still attend dog and chicken fights and an amendment by James McGovern (D-Mass) would make it a
felony to “knowing attend or knowingly cause a minor to attend an animal fighting venture.” In other words, who is going to attend an animal fight if they face over a year in prison. The idea, of course, is if Congress dries up the crowd, the same thing happens to the money. Sadly, cowards still have a lust for blood money, but the more that can be done to discourages the creeps, the better it is for a civilized society.
Tennessee, which is slowly making inroads on the fact it is the nation’s epicenter for horse abuse, has just arrested its second “dirty lick” horse trainer in a year and animal welfare authorities are searching for the owners of the 27 horses now being held at a secret location. If authorities can prove that the owners of horses confiscated from Jackie McConnell and Larry Wheelon
knowingly had the horses sored, it is believed they could also be charged.
“This is all new ground,” one federal agent explained. “We are very careful to video these horses being examined and how each swab is handled,” but he indicated that both physical and scientific evidence that will be introduced in court today is “overwhelming.” Wheelon, a member of the ethics committee of the Walking Horse Trainer’s Association, has a long and colorful history of violating the federal Horse Protection Act and many of those sitting on the governing boards of the National Celebration groups have also been suspended for illegal soring and sadistic practices.
Law enforcement officials, enabled when the state legislature made livestock abuse a felony, are currently investigating other walking horse trainers, but if Steve King’s amendment gains traction, it is just like Pacelle said, “It is a threat to every consumer and animal in the country.
Two Tennesseans serve on the Agriculture Committee, Steven Fincher (R-Frog Jump) and Scott Desjarlais (R-Jasper.) Fincher just responded quickly when Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell was found guilty, his comments lending hope he’ll oppose the King amendment. He said, “Today’s first-degree murder conviction of Dr. Gosnell shows there is hope. Hope that we can change our culture that accepts such actions. Hope that we can save little babies that bring so much love and joy to our lives."
“The jury members put politics aside and came to the conclusion that Dr. Gosnell had murdered these innocent babies,” said Fincher. “It is my hope that folks educate themselves on what Dr. Gosnell was doing and fight in their communities to save the lives of so many precious babies.”
While one would hope he has similar views on animals, Desjarlais is altogether of a different stripe. This fall the “Dirty Lick” crowd sponsored a reception for him and it is widely known he has placed pressure on the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to curtail soring and torture. He also urged a former mistress to have an abortion, according to court records.
Now claiming that God has forgiven him, DesJarlais can ill afford the wrath of animal welfare advocates who descended on Haslam when he faltered before vetoing the Ag-Gag bill.
Humane Society Says 75% Of Horses At Walking Horse Celebration Tested Positive For Foreign Substances
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s testing revealed that at the 2012 National Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, 145 horses out of 190 tested, or 76 percent, were found positive for foreign substanes, the Humane Society of the United States said.
"That is In contrast to the two foreign substance violations reported by the Tennessee walking horse industry," Humane Society officials said. The HSUS has requested that Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. "open an investigation into the veracity of public statements made by officials connected to the Walking Horse Trainers Association Enforcement Initiative, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization about their initiative to detect unlawful horse soring at the 2012 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
"The HSUS maintains that this discrepancy raises a serious concern that participants and spectators at the Celebration were falsely assured that horses entered were compliant with the federal Horse Protection Act, when evidence of cruelty and cheating may have been concealed by the organizers of the event. The foreign substance testing is used to detect the presence of painful caustic chemicals that trainers apply to horses’ legs. Other cruel training methods – collectively referred to as 'soring' – are used to obtain the prized high-stepping gait of the walking horse.
"Before the event, both the TWHNC and the TWSHO issued press releases assuring the public that every horse entered at the Celebration would be swabbed and tested for illegal foreign substances used to sore horses or to conceal that a horse was sore. They also promised to release test results promptly during the event and to immediately and severely punish any violators. However, it appears that the industry groups did not swab and test every horse, nor did they release the complete results of the testing, adding to suspicions that some positive test results may have been suppressed to protect the perpetrators."
Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS, said, “The show organizations involved with the Celebration’s swabbing program failed to deliver on promises about protecting the welfare of horses and compliance with the law. We are urging Attorney General Cooper to fully investigate the industry’s deception.”
HSUS placed a full-page ad in The Tennessean as the latest in the deluge of criticism that has met anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill, SB1248.
SB1248 would make it a crime for investigative journalists and public interest charities to document and expose inhumane and illegal activity in horse stables and at industrial agriculture facilities.
Help get this bill vetoed! Call Gov. Haslam’s office at (615) 741-2001 and urge him to oppose the bill. This takes just a couple of minutes. You can also email the Governor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Outspoken critics of the legislation include singers Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris as well as talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Legislation to End Rampant Cruelty in Tennessee Walking Horse Competitions Endorsed by Animal Welfare Organizations
The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA support Horse Protection Act amendments that make key reforms including elimination of corrupt industry self-policing scheme.
Animal welfare organizations applaud members of Congress for introducing federal legislation to stop the cruel practice of “soring”—the deliberate infliction of pain to the hooves and legs of horses to produce an artificial high-stepping gait that gains unfair competitive advantage at horse shows. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2013, H.R. 1518, was introduced by lead sponsors U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., along with Reps Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Jim Moran, D-Va., as original cosponsors.
The PAST Act strengthens the Horse Protection Act, originally passed in 1970. The bipartisan bill is endorsed by The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), along with a broad and unusually diverse coalition of horse industry and veterinary organizations, including the American Horse Council, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
The Horse Protection Act was enacted more than 40 years ago, but the systematic abuse of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds persists. Unscrupulous trainers spend their efforts devising a gruesome array of techniques to make it painful for these gentle creatures to take even a step, so they will lift their front legs extremely high in the unnatural gait known as “the Big Lick,” rewarded by judges at some of this industry’s horse competitions.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: “Without these strong amendments to the decades-old Horse Protection Act, ‘Big Lick’ show horses will continue to suffer at the hands of unethical trainers and owners who abuse
horses to win blue ribbons. We’ve upgraded our federal laws in recent years relating to dogfighting and cockfighting, and now it’s time to do so for horse soring.”
Rep. Whitfield said: “Far too often, those involved in showing the Tennessee walking horses have turned a blind eye to abusive trainers, or when they do take action, the penalties are so minor, it does nothing to prevent these barbaric acts. Thisamendment does not cost the federal government any additional money and is essential in helping to put an end to the practice of soring by abusive trainers.”
Rep. Cohen said: “In Tennessee, soring horses is illegal and unacceptable. Those responsible for abusing these horses should be punished severely and banned from the sport. How we treat animals is a direct reflection of our character, both as individuals and a nation. There is no ribbon, no prize nor championship worth the price of one’s humanity.”
Former Sen. Joseph Tydings, D-Md., the author and original sponsor of the Horse Protection Act of 1970, said: “I commend Congressman Whitfield on his leadership in organizing this bipartisan effort to strengthen and improve the Horse Protection Act of 1970, which is long overdue and greatly needed.”
A 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General audit of the agency’s Horse Protection Act enforcement program found that trainers in the industry go to great lengths to evade detection of the cruelty to which they subject their horses, rather than comply with federal law and use humane training methods. The O.I.G. audit also pointed out the serious conflicts of interest in the current system, which allows inspectors to be chosen by the horse industry organizations representing the trainers and putting on the competitions.
Key reforms in H.R. 1518: