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.” Continue reading →
Here’s a collection of statements to media from various groups on Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a bill requiring anyone making a photo or video of livestock abuse to turn it over to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours. News release from Humane Society of the United States:
(May 13, 2013) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, after hearing from thousands of Tennesseans urging the veto and a report deeming the bill constitutionally suspect by the Tennessee Attorney General.
Animal protection groups, First Amendment advocates and newspaper editorial boards across Tennessee opposed the bill, which would criminalize undercover investigations at agribusiness operations and stables. More than 300 Tennessee clergy also spoke out against the bill, as did several Tennessee celebrities, including Priscilla Presley, singers Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris, and Miss Tennessee USA 2013. The bill also received national criticism from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, on her show to discuss the issue.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said: “We thank Gov. Haslam for listening to his constituents and honoring the Constitution by vetoing this recklessly irresponsible legislation that would criminalize the important work of cruelty whistleblowers. By vetoing this bill, the governor is supporting transparency in horse stables and our food system.”