Tennessee: Starving Horses Only a Misdemeanor

“He bought the horses at an auction, but they were way too much for him to take care of,” said Humane Society representative Jordan Crump of Charles Howland, who along with his son Clint, let 84 horses starve on his Cannon County farm in Tennessee. The Cannon County Sheriff’s Department and Humane Society volunteers rescued the the horses, along with goats, dogs, and chickens. According to http://humanesociety.org/, “When rescuers arrived on the property, they found many Tennessee Walking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses, as well as quarter horses. Tennessee Walking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses are two breeds that commonly suffer from soring, an abusive practice that involves the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force an artificial, exaggerated gait. Many of the horses were extremely emaciated and suffering from a variety of medical ailments including overgrown, infected hooves and parasite infestation. Rescuers also found several dead horses on the scene.” See slide show at http://www.wsmv.com/slideshow/news/21711849/detail.html.

The animals were transported to the State Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, where many stalls were available. The good news is that as of December 1, the horses are doing much better. Thanksgiving Day drew a lot of sympathizers who brought hay for the horses and food for the valiant workers.

Out of this near-disaster emerged a frustrating problem with Tennessee law. The Howlands, charged with animal cruelty, will never go to jail. But, you protest, there are 84 counts of animal cruelty against both men. It doesn’t matter. Cruelty to horses is only a MISDEMEANOR. Maybe they will be fined $2500. You understand that if horses are considered livestock and livestock can be used as a business expense, the farmer can have a large tax break. Incredibly, the Farm Bureau said that this law is working. But of course in the minds of all rational people, it isn’t working, when two men can try to starve 84 horses to death so they don’t have to feed them. Note that Rep. Janis Sontany is working to get horse cruelty declared a felony. See http://www.wsmv.com/news/21740874/detail.html.

For a video whose images speak volumes about what these animals have suffered, go to http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091208/NEWS01/912080346.

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