Tag Archives: animals

Officer suspended for refusing to shoot skunk

Mount Carmel Police Department Officer David Dean received a three day suspension earlier this month for refusing to shoot a skunk that had bitten a child, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

Dean reportedly violated departmental policy when he gave his duty weapon to fire Chief Ryan Christian, who fired three shoots to kill the skunk.

…Animal control officer Eddie Seabolt received a walk-in complaint at the municipal animal shelter from a woman whose 6-year-old daughter had been bitten by a skunk at their residence on the 700th block of Hammond Avenue.

The child was reportedly taken to receive medical attention, and Seabolt responded to the residence where he located what was determined to be an injured baby skunk.

Mount Carmel prohibits its animal control officer from euthanizing animals. Dean responded to the residence. Christian also responded to the residence to assist.

“Officer Seabolt stated once Patrolman Dean arrived on the scene he told him he needed for him to kill the injured skunk because it had bitten a child and the head had to be sent off and be checked for rabies,” Robinette stated in his report. “(Seabolt) stated Patrolman Dean stated he couldn’t kill an animal and he refused to kill the animal, knowing it had bitten a child.”

Dean gave a written statement in which he described the baby skunk as being injured and appearing as if it had either been hit by a vehicle or attacked by another animal.

According to his own statement Dean told Seabolt, “It’s hard for me to shoot an animal unless it’s trying to eat me because it’s here for a purpose and really hard to shoot an animal when it’s injured.”

…Fortunately for the child, the skunk wasn’t rabid.

Farm operators charged with chicken abuse

DRESDEN, Tenn. (AP) — The owners of a Tennessee chicken farm have been charged with animal cruelty after an undercover video caught them abusing the birds.

According to an affidavit in the General Sessions Court of Weakley County, T&S Poultry owners Thomas and Suzanne Blassingame are accused of “stabbing them with a large spike attached to a pole and failing to promptly and properly euthanize the chickens.”

The incident occurred between July 28 and August 23 in Dukedom, Tennessee, an unincorporated community in both Graves County, Kentucky, and Weakley County, Tennessee, that straddles the state line in the western part of both states.

The video was shot by the advocacy group Mercy For Animals, which turned the footage over to the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department.

The farm supplied birds for McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.

McDonald’s as well as Tyson Foods have since severed ties with the farm.

Biking senator bitten by dog

SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Kerry Roberts has been hurt in a dog attack while riding his bike.

The Tennessean newspaper reports (http://tnne.ws/1PQbCh9 ) that the Springfield Republican and his wife, Dianne, were riding their bikes in Robertson County on Wednesday morning when the aggressive dog ran into the road.

Roberts told his wife to ride ahead while he dealt with the dog. The animal bit Roberts in the calf as he was trying to use the bike to shield himself.

The attack ended when a man in a pickup truck blocked the dog.

Roberts said the wound was bleeding heavily, and required 12 stiches. Animal Control officials captured the dog and confirmed it was up to date on his shots.

Roberts (R-Springfield) represents Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys and Robertson counties.

Undercover TN Walking Horse abuse videos bring new investigation

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three years after a prominent Tennessee walking horse trainer pleaded guilty to abuse charges following the release of undercover videos, a new horse abuse investigation is under way.

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of Tennessee walking horse abuse at ThorSport Farm following new videos the Humane Society of the United States says show trainers applying caustic substances onto horses’ forelegs to irritate them. The trainers then place chains over the inflamed area that hit the forelegs as the horses walk.

The illegal training method is known as soring and is used to create the “big lick” gait prized at some horse shows.

The Humane Society says an undercover stable worker took the videos and also collected samples of the chemicals applied to the horses’ legs. Testing found them to contain salicylic acid and mustard oil, among other illegal substances, Humane Society Vice President of Equine Protection Keith Dane said.

In an emailed statement, stable owner Duke Thorson said, “ThorSport Farm has a well-earned reputation for operating ethically and legally, and we emphatically reject the HSUS’s charges of soring.”
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TN Walking Horse rider accused of assaulting protester

A world champion Tennessee Walking Horse rider has been indicted for aggravated assault against a woman who was protesting animal abuse at a walking horse show in Maury County, according to the Columbia Daily Herald.

Jamie Lawrence, 42, of Vinemont, Ala., was charged with driving a truck in the direction of Teresa Bippen, 58, while she protested outside the Spring Jubilee at Maury County Park on May 30.

…Bippen and others were part of a demonstration against soring at Walking Horse shows. They were trying discourage attendance. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick” to impress judges.

“I am appreciative of the Maury County grand jury because I felt our rights to boycott were approved in advance,” Bippen said Thursday in a telephone interview from her home in Hillsboro, Mo. “I had a right to be where I was, and for anyone to take such a drastic action against me was scary.”

Lawrence, an expert rider and trainer in the Racking Horse division…”cut his truck hard left into the area where Ms. Teresa Bippen was standing,” Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Jackson wrote in a report. “Then he cut his wheels back hard right. I could not tell how close he came to Ms. Bippen.”

Jackson and two Columbia Police officers approached the truck, the report said.

“I asked the driver why in the world would he do that?” Jackson wrote. “He stated that he should not have.”
… In her witness statement, Bippen said Lawrence’s truck came directly at her after she saw him speaking with another protestor, Tara Taylor, about 10 feet away.

“I was surprised that he looked me directly in the eye,” Bippen wrote. “I raised my sign and said, ‘Big Lick, Big Lie’ and ‘Soring is Animal Abuse.’ I heard the motor gun, the vehicle sped up and suddenly turned toward me all at virtually the same time.

“I leaped to my right in order not to be run over, and I was grateful not to be hit. I recollect hearing the gravel crunch and seeing it scatter when the vehicle reached the edge of the road.”

…“The driver stopped his truck briefly,” Taylor, of Shelbyville, said. “He was very angry and yelled at me, ‘What right do you have to be here.’ I answered that I owned a Tennessee Walker. This seemed to further incite him and he yelled, ‘How do you know what I do to my horses’? I answered him that I had been to Walking Horse barns.”

Taylor said her interaction with Lawrence caused him to “to go into a red-faced rage.” She said he grabbed his steering wheel with both hands, gunned the engine and accelerated toward Bippen.

“I clearly remember thinking two things: One, OMG, he just swerved at her with malice, and, two, who would swerve so sharply on purpose while pulling a horse?” Taylor wrote.

PETA gives award to Rep. Hawk, vegan chocolates to other legislators

News release from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Nashville, Tenn. — As of July 1, Tennesseans can break into vehicles without facing civil liability to save both human children and animals who are locked inside on dangerously hot days, thanks to an extension to the Good Samaritan Law first introduced by Tennessee State Rep. David Hawk. And for introducing the unprecedented new law—which is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S.—Rep. Hawk will receive a Compassionate Lawmaker Award from PETA.

Rep. Hawk was reportedly moved to introduce the extension after hearing about a dog who died in a hot car before law enforcement could arrive to save the animal. “It’s good for folks to know that they have this ability to take action should a possible tragic event happen,” he said.

“Every summer, PETA receives dozens of calls about cases in which someone ran into a store for ‘just a few minutes’—only to find that those few minutes proved fatal for a dog left behind in the hot car,” says PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien. “Thanks to Representative Hawk, this new law will ensure that Tennesseans don’t hesitate to step in and save dogs from agonizing, preventable deaths.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—reminds all dog guardians never to leave any animal inside a parked car. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Rep. Hawk will receive a framed certificate and the Tennessee General Assembly will receive delicious dog-shaped vegan chocolates from PETA.

(Note: Previous post HERE.)

See also, the Huffington Post (which has occasionally had some past articles rather critical of Tennessee and its politicians). Excerpt:

If Bonnaroo, Graceland and the Grand Ole Opry weren’t enough, here’s one more reason to love Tennessee: They’re doing right by dogs trapped in hot cars.

Under a law that went into effect July 1, anyone in Tennessee who breaks into a car to save an animal will be free of civil liability.

House Bill 537 is thought to be the first of its kind in the country.

The move has been cheered by animal advocates.

“The ASPCA strongly supports states giving law enforcement and Good Samaritans the ability to intervene to protect animals suffering in hot cars,” said Chloë Waterman, the ASPCA’s senior manager of state legislative strategy, in an email to The Huffington Post.

TN first with ‘Good Samaritan’ law for helping hot dogs

State Rep. David Hawk tells the Johnson City Press that Tennessee is the first state in the nation to legalize breaking a car window to help an animal in distress. Hawk was House sponsor of HB537, approved by the Legislature earlier this year and taking effect July 1.

Hawk, R-Greeneville, calls it a Good Samaritan law. The story quotes the bill description on the legislative website: “As enacted, adds animals to the existing procedure that confers immunity from liability on a person for damage caused by breaking into a locked vehicle for the purpose of extracting a child in danger.”

Hawk celebrates the momentum of HB0537 as a victory for domestic animals, who are a part of many families in the state on the level of a child.

“It’s good for folks to know that they have this ability to take action should a possible tragic event happen,” Hawk said.

It will prevent a person from being sued if they were to break into a car to rescue a hot dog or cat.

And that situation is exactly what spurred the expansion.

Hawk said he heard about a tragic situation where people found a car with an overheated pair of dogs inside. Before law enforcement or local chapter of the Humane Society could get there, one of the dogs had died and the other was in extremely poor shape.

Though the other dog eventually recovered, one dog died an agonizing and preventable death, which, to Hawk, was unacceptable. He said the vehicle’s owners were being brought up on animal cruelty charges.

“What can be done so this circumstance doesn’t happen again?” Hawk remembers asking.

This prompted him to get the protection animals added to the Good Samaritan law, a precedent in the United States. Hawk said other states are looking at what Tennessee is doing with the Good Samaritan law and putting it into practice.

Note: The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald. It passed the Senate unanimousl and cleared the House with just two no votes.

‘Court dogs’ comfort kids in juvenile proceedings

East Tennessee now has six “court dogs” on duty when youngsters come to trials, reports the News Sentinel, and not for policing purposes.

They and their owners or handlers attend juvenile court proceedings in a program begun in April by CASA of East Tennessee and HABIT.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Its volunteers advocate for about 200 neglected or abused children each year in Knox County Juvenile Court. CASA volunteers do home assessments, conduct interviews and make recommendations in children’s interests.

HABIT, or Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, is a University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine program that offers animal-assisted therapy. HABIT owners and their behaviorally and medically screened animals visit nursing homes, schools, hospitals — and now — court.

CASA Volunteer Coordinator Summer Colbert started the program after learning about a similar project at a 2014 national CASA conference. A New Mexico CASA organization owns and cares for its own court therapy dog. Colbert knew CASA of East Tennessee didn’t have the money to buy and care for a dog and knew HABIT already offered animal-assisted therapy.

“I said, ‘I want a dog to be in court … so I contacted HABIT,” she said. “Now we have six therapy dogs.”

…The canines are a “welcome addition” to court, said Knox County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin. “It’s nice for the kids, nice for the staff. Everybody can use a little cheering up in this business.”

The idea is simple: a child anxious or stressed in court may feel better by seeing, talking to or petting a calm, friendly dog. “The kids don’t expect to see them (in court),” said Karen Armsey. “And they get such joy from them.”

Legislature poised to pass enhanced penalties for cockfighting

After decades of repeated rejection, legislation that would increase penalties for cockfighting in Tennessee seems poised for passage in the Tennessee General Assembly.

But some advocates for animal protection have again lost an attempt to reinstate state regulation of what they call “puppy mills,” large-scale operations for breeding dogs.

The bill to enhance penalties for animal fighting (SB1024) has already passed the Senate, as has similar legislation in the past. But this year the companion House bill has also cleared the House Agriculture Committee, which has historically been the roadblock to enactment despite the repeated efforts of sponsor Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, in recent years.

Counting that key committee, the measure now has been blessed by five House committees and subcommittees and is on the Finance Committee agenda Tuesday. Approval there would set the stage for a final vote later this week or early next week as the General Assembly moves toward adjournment of the 2015 session.

In pushing passage this year, Lundberg focused in his presentations to committees on a provision that was not part of prior efforts — one declaring that those bringing a child under age 18 to an animal fight will be subject to a minimum penalty of $1,000.

As Tennessee law stands now, a spectator at a cockfight only can be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, which has a minimum fine of $50. Other provisions of this year’s bill would increase the penalty for general spectators at an animal fight to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 — though no minimum is set unless a child is involved.
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Bill authorizes slaying wild hogs ‘by any means necessary’

Wild hogs cause about $1.5 billion in agricultural damage a year in Tennessee, and lawmakers in three counties want to allow landowners to control them with “any means necessary,” according to the Times-Free Press.

First cousins Riley Frady and Wendell Oakes, two lifelong residents and landowners in northwest Bledsoe County, say the bill being considered in the Tennessee Legislature would help hunters better control the feral pigs that can root up acres of farmland in a night.

“They’re after your seeds and bugs and roots and stuff. They get their food out of the ground,” said Oakes, standing at the sawmill on the family farm on state Highway 30 near Fall Creek Falls State Park.

For many area landowners, Frady is the man to call when wild hogs become a problem. He helped get the measure passed by the Bledsoe County Commission en route to the bill under consideration in Nashville.

If the bill introduced by Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, and co-sponsored by Sens. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, and Mike Bell, R-Riceville, becomes law, hunters will be able hunt hogs with dogs Bledsoe, Polk and White counties all year around except during deer season. (Note: It’s SB702 and has already cleared committee in the Senate.)

However, the Wild Hog Eradication Action Team, a 24-organization partnership of state agencies and other groups, wants to get rid of the destructive animals but advocates trapping rather than dogs.