Hidden Camera Catches Animal Abuse
Animal abuse is a problem in the United States, as well as all over the world. If there is abuse going on, it’s important that people know about it and stop it.
In a barn in West Tennessee, the horses held there are severely mistreated, often being whipped and beaten. Trainers kick them and drag them by their heads, and some even drip chemicals on their ankles and bound them tightly using a plastic wrap.
According to animal rights activists, these abuses happen in an effort to accentuate the well-known high leg kick of the Tennessee Walking Horse. This troubling story came to light thanks to footage captured by a hidden camera.
The Humane Society of the United States released the footage Thursday to urge the horse industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress to crack down on the method of care and abuse, known as soring in the animal rights community. “Soring” is illegal under federal and state law.
Soring is when chemicals are placed on the horses ankles. The chemicals cause the horse to be in pain, which makes the horse lift its legs higher as it walks. The walk, known as the “Big Lick,” is prized in Walking Horse competitions.
In response to the breaking story, PepsiCo quickly withdrew its sponsorship of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration as a result of the video. A spokesman confirmed their withdrawal today. The video first aired Wednesday on ABC News’ “Nightline.” The walking horse show runs this year from Aug. 22 to Sept. 1 in Shelbyville, Tenn.
The celebration’s CEO, Doyle Meadows, issued a statement Thursday saying he hopes PepsiCo one day returns as a sponsor. “The celebration has worked extremely hard over recent years to gain the trust of our corporate partners, and we would do nothing to destroy that relationship,” Meadows said.
Soring has been illegal under the federal Horse Protection Act since 1970. But Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the Humane Society, said it has “continued unabated for the past 42 years.”
The video, shot last year by an undercover humane society investigator, shows trainers at a Collierville, Tenn., farm applying the chemicals to the horses.
The Humane Society filmed the video in a barn owned and operated by nationally known trainer Jackie McConnell. The organization gave the video to federal prosecutors last year, and McConnell and three others were charged in a 52-count indictment unsealed in early March.
Papers filed this week in federal court in Chattanooga, state that McConnell intends to plead guilty to one count of the indictment. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
Dane praised Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, for pursuing soring cases. Under federal law, it is illegal to transport and show sored horses. In addition to McConnell, federal prosecutors brought charges against Lewisburg, Tenn., trainer Barney Davis. Davis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $4,000 for soring.
Regulation limited Tennessee Walking Horses already have a natural, high gait and soring is unnecessary, said Dane, a licensed horse judge.