April Women’s Book Club at Outloud Books

Hi All,

Just a reminder, the OutLoud Women’s Book Group will meet Sunday, April 11, at 3:00 pm, to discuss I Can’t Think Straight by award winning writer and film director Shamim Sarif. The novel is based on the screenplay by Kelly Moss and Shamim Sarif and the movie version of I Can’t Think Straight is also available at OutLoud.

“Tala, a London based Palestinian, is preparing for her elaborate Middle Eastern wedding when she meets Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating Tala’s best friend.
Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is immediate and goes deeper than friendship.
As Tala’s wedding day approaches, simmering tensions come to a boiling point and the pressure mounts for Tala to be true to herself.
Moving between the vast enclaves of Middle Eastern high society and the stunning backdrop of London’s West End, I Can’t Think Straight explores the clashes between East and West, love and marriage, conventions and individuality, creating a humorous and tender story of unexpected love and unusual freedom.” (Book Jacket)

As usual, let me remind you that the book group meeting is open to anyone and you don’t have to read the book to attend.

See you there!

Brenda B.

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Update on HB3386 – Aggravated Animal Cruelty.

I wanted to update each of you on HB3386 – Aggravated Animal Cruelty.
Our bill was in the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, March 23. There was testimony from two Farm Bureau Insurance Company members – and much of their testimony was the same message as always – laws okay as they are – everything is just fine, and there is no need to change anything. We are members of the greatest organization known to man and therefore, what’s the big deal. That is somewhat a paraphrase, but to view the whole event you can go to www. capitol.tn.gov click on videos, click on house videos , then on Agriculture.
The message I tried to convey to the members of the committee was to show the direct correlation between animal abuse and violence towards humans. We all know that animal abuse was the common denominator of many of the youngsters that committed the school shootings where both teachers and students were gunned down over the last decade. In domestic violence situations, many abused will not leave the abuser because they are concerned about the welfare of the family pet. Many who abuse animals often turn to abusing humans. Those of you who have been involved in the long struggle of fighting animal abuse know all the scenarios and can sight the examples much more readily than I can.
The bill was rolled until next week after much discussion from the members of the committee about how Farm Bureau Insurance Company had been given much bad press and how “no one could speak for them” but they had always been known for representing the TN farmer – you could almost hear America the Beautiful playing in the background. I really expected “Farm Bureau Charlie” to rise from the floor behind the committee wearing his FB hat with cell phone in hand trying to give sound advice to some foreign dignitary. You really had to be there! It seemed strange to me that the CAO from FB Insurance Company wasn’t invited to the podium to defend this great American company, but he only sat in the back of the room and watched, from what I was told. (I had my back to the audience because I was standing before the committee.)
HB3386 was rolled for one more week so that we could hear from the DAs because much of my reasoning for strengthening our animal abuse laws to a felony stemmed from the many examples of how DAs would not prosecute because it was only a misdemeanor. In talking to the DAs’ lobbyists on the hill (most every special interest but our regular citizens have one), they say it just isn’t so – they always prosecute even when it is only a misdemeanor. We all have stories to the contrary here.
Our bill was dealt a fatal blow yesterday when I received a letter from the Senate sponsor, Sen. Bill Ketron (R) Murfreesboro. He advised me that he was placing the Senate bill (companion to HB3386) in General Sub which is akin to the black hole for the remainder of the session. This, in essence, means the bill is dead – without a Senate sponsor our HB3386 can move no further in the process.
What I would like to ask each of you as you go about your daily lives of advocating for our animals is over the next year, please document each instance of animal abuse you encounter, and advise me so that we can put together real instances in real time. This way, when I return to Capitol Hill next January, I promise you I will again introduce a bill that will make aggravated animal abuse apply to all animals. We need these examples to strengthen our position that this law is very much needed.
This is very disappointing but not unexpected. In my years in public service, both in the Metro Council and the General Assembly, I have seen many worthwhile causes that have to be brought back year after year before there has been enough education on the importance of changing the law – this one is no different.
I have a heavy heart this morning as I report this to you, but my Dad always said, “If it is worth doing (and we all know this is), it is worth doing right, and there are very few things worth doing that are not difficult.”
I think each of you can feel very proud that we got our message out that Farm Bureau Insurance Company’s policies don’t represent everyone that is their member, and we have at least made a small dent in their armor by exposing them for what they are – the 800 lb. gorilla on Capitol Hill that so many of my colleagues fear more than any other special interest.
Please let’s stay in touch and start documenting each and every instance when we know that a stronger penalty could have made a difference in the final outcome. I feel very blessed to have either met or been able to communicate with each of you, and we aren’t finished yet.
Respectfully,

Janis Sontany

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Update on HB 3386: Make it a felony to starve horses & livestock

Re: HB-3386 – Aggravated Animal Cruelty

This bill will add all animals to our current Aggravated Animal Cruelty statute. It will make the withholding of food and water from ANY animal to the point of death or near death a felony. Currently, if you starve a companion animal it is a felony, if you starve “livestock” it is a misdemeanor. It makes no sense to have different penalties for the same despicable action. How can we continue to say it is far worse to starve a dog than to starve a horse?

The bill also defines aggravated animal cruelty as an act committed by a person who without justifiable purpose, kills or intentionally causes serious bodily injury to any animal in a depraved or sadistic manner. The illustration that I have given before is the man who got mad at his wife, tied her horse to the back of his truck and dragged it until it was almost dead, then finished it off by stabbing it with a pitchfork.

I think you will agree that was depraved and sadistic. When she went to the DA in her county to ask for him to be prosecuted, she was met with the response that he had too many other cases to busy himself with this one because it was only a misdemeanor.

We need stiffer penalties to encourage DA’s to prosecute. They are more likely to prosecute a felony than a misdemeanor.

Our bill was in House Agriculture Committee last Tuesday morning. Many of you know that our biggest opponent is Farm Bureau Insurance Company. The Farm Bureau Insurance Agents filled all the seats in the committee room and those of you who took time from your busy schedules to come to the Capitol to make your support for the bill known, were left standing in the aisles. I really appreciate the way you hung in there for over an hour before our bill was heard.

We had three great speakers – Sgt. Mike McLerran – Sumner County Animal Control who made great points – he gets several complaints per month about abused horses. It is not the legitimate TN farmer where he has to remove starving horses, it is the horse trader, the broker, the killer that buys horses cheap and refuses to invest any money in their care even FOOD, knowing that many of them will not make it and transporting those who do live inhumanely to Mexico to be slaughtered inhumanely.

He was asked by Rep. Eddie Bass (D) Giles County, if in a tight budget year, should the legislature be focused on protecting children or animals. Sgt McLerran very eloquently answered that it was often the people who abuse animals that also abuse children.

Our second speaker was Ron Smith, CEO, Electric Service Credit Union, a horse and burro owner and Farm Bureau member. Ron stressed more than once that increasing the penalty would make someone think twice if they knew they were going to be charged with felony rather than having their hand slapped with a misdemeanor.

Ron was asked by Deputy Speaker Steve McDanel (R) Parkers Crossroads, if he supported horse slaughter to which Ron answered no. Farm Bureau Insurance Company is for horse slaughter in Tennessee – won’t that make for a great economic and community development tool for recruiting new business to Tennessee. Come to Tennessee, home of horse slaughter.

Third, was Mary Hord, cattle producer and equine rescue – also a Farm Bureau member. She advocated for increased penalties and was quite emphatic that she was ashamed to be a Farm Bureau member and that they did not speak for her as they claimed to speak for all 650,000 members of Farm Bureau Insurance Company.

Our bill was deferred to Tuesday, March 23rd, at 9:00 a.m. I expect there to be some discussion this week since the cameras probably will not be present again. Please join me if you can make it, if not, please make calls again to members of the Ag Committee.

I have been invited to appear on Morning Line – Channel 5+ on Monday morning, March 22nd, from 8-9 a.m. along with someone from Farm Bureau Insurance Company. Please call in if you can at 737-7587. As they stacked the committee room last week, we probably can expect those opposed to increasing penalties to monopolize the phone lines on Monday.

I will leave you with this thought – it is a felony to sell glue for unlawful purpose, it is a felony to write worthless checks ($501-$999) and it is a felony to file a false or fraudulent insurance claim, however, it is a misdemeanor to commit aggravated animal cruelty which includes starving livestock or dragging a horse to its death.

Again, thanks for your continued support.

The members of the House Agriculture Committee are:

Committee Officers
Stratton Bone, Chair (615) 741-7086 rep.stratton.bone@capitol.tn.gov
Dale Ford, V. Chair (615) 741-1717
rep.dale.ford@capitol.tn.gov
Willie Butch Borchert, Sect’y (615) 741-6804
Rep.willie.borchert@capitol.tn.gov
Members:
Eddie Bass (615) 741- 1864
rep.eddie.bass@capitol.tn.gov
Chad Faulkner (615) 741-3335
rep.chad.faulkner@capitol.tn.gov
Curtis Halford (615) 741-7478
rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.gov
John Litz (615) 741- 6877
rep.john.litz@capitol.tn.gov
Steve McDaniel (615) 741-0750
rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.gov
Frank Niceley (615) 741-4419
rep.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.gov
Johnny Shaw (615) 741-4538
rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.gov
Terri Lynn Weaver (615) 741-2192
rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.gov
John Mark Windle (615) 741-1260
rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov

Sincerely,

Janis Sontany

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Adorable Puppies looking for that perfect home

Here’s the description of these cute little guys…They are both males and 7 wks old (per my vet) and look to be pure Pyrenees (they can have markings when young that fade) or a Pyrenees cross. They have had their 1st puppy shot on March 8, wormed withStrongid on March 11, had a Sentinel tablet (for worms and fleas) and have Frontline Plus on them.. I am just a “flea freak” and hate fleas—-the pups did not have fleas—we don’t want fleas!! They are SMART!!! Come when called, “get back” when told to and now, I go to the horse trailer and they get up in it by themselves. I put them in the 4 horse trailer when I go to work so they will be safe. I just love them. I do not need them but would love to keep them. But if I can get a good stable home for them, I will let them go. You can comment here or drop an email to avalonfarms@hughes.net and I’ll pass it along to the owner. She’s love to find a forever home for them…is that you?

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Sirocco & Me

I’ve been studying Parelli Natural Horsemanship for a few years and never before took the time to get “officially certified” in the program. I’ve signed up for a level 3 & 4 clinic in June which means I must be certified in level 2 to attend. I’m really looking forward to the clinic which is with one of Parelli’s top trainers, Carol Coppinger. I’ve been to one of her level 1 clinics a few years ago and she’s amazing. Great teacher too.

So the other day Emily ran the camera for me and I completed my Level 2 online audition tape. Now I wait to hear if I passed. The other part of level 2 is the riding part which I haven’t recorded yet. Here’s my online audition with my gelding Sirocco. (9 minute youtube video at the end of this post)

about the horse…

He was born here and is out of my quarter horse mare April. She died last year at 24 from a spine injury suffered in a fall last winter. She slipped in the pasture when it was wet and muddy. She was a great horse, my best friend and a wonderful mamma. I still miss her and the many trail rides we had together. She is buried on our farm down near “the point,” a spot next to the geldings pasture and the lake.

Sirocco is a quarter horse and his bloodlines are King p234, king fritz, leo & poco buano. Those are all old foundation QH lines. There are two common types of quarter horses…the cowboys rode stalky horses with a lot of muscle to work cows. They are fast and can turn on a dime. Later thoroughbreds were bred into the line to add a slender tall frame to the mix for things like jumping, dressage and eventing. Sirocco is short and stalky. Quarter Horses got the name because they could run the fastest 1/4 mile. His grand father was “Woodchex,” a national reining horse champion. Reining is also called “the cowboy’s dressage.”

In terms Parelli folks understand, he is a left brain introvert/extrovert (I see both of those in him so not sure where he falls on the chart) I started riding him before winter set in and now we’re just getting back to riding in the arena. He’s been doing really well and I think all the ground work is really paying off. He’s side passing, coming off my leg, picking up his lead and backing nicely. I’m really happy with his progress.

He has a full brother “Grayson Chex Leo” that I am working with too but I am not as far along yet with him. I’ll post more about him later. A local trainer, JR has been coming to the farm to help start all the young green horses and he’s really helped me with my riding skills too. He’s the 3rd generation in his family to train horses and he too is a natural horseman. Here he is playing a circle game with Dolly (“Honcho’s Dolly Dee”) another one of our quarter horses in training at Avalon Farms.

Val’s Level 2 Online Audition Video

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HB 3386 update: Making it a felony to abuse Horses and other farm animals

I have this thought going around my head…”it’s not about doing the right thing, it’s about playing the game…”

I spent the morning watching democracy (I think) on capitol hill. Rep. Janice Sontany introduced HB 3386 to the agriculture committee. Actually I don’t know how she and others do this kind of work because it’s like watching paint dry. The first few hours waiting for her bill to come up, we heard about a bill to ban “Terminator seed” corn. Representatives spoke from big companies like Monsanto and Dupont. A long free exchange took place with committee members asking questions, making comments etc. Then it was time for HB3386.

The bill would make it a felony to starve or withhold water from horses and other farm animals. Seems like a no brainer doesn’t it? Who would want to stand in the way of protecting these innocent animals and why? The case of the 84 starving horses from cannon county brought media attention to a problem in Tennessee. A state representative, Janis Sontany, went down to see the horses when they were at the fairgrounds. She met with the humane society folks and promised to try and help. She wrote a bill to increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for anyone doing such things to their animals.

Farm Bureau Insurance is against her bill and packed the room with agents from around the state. So here’s the picture: a bunch of guys sitting in all the chairs in the room and all the women including me (& a few men) supporting the bill, left standing in the aisles. The committee for the most part is against the bill too. 3 outside people spoke in favor of it (very eloquently) and were told before they walked up to the podium to “keep it brief.” (a sheriff, a rescue person & a rancher) In an effort to discredit one of the speakers a committee member asked one guy if he supported horse slaughter. (I guess if you don’t that makes you an “animal rights activist.” Is that a bad thing BTW? Oh a straw man question was also thrown out…”would you like to protect farm animals or children?” Well sir, I’d like to do BOTH! Standing silent through all this was quite a challenge. After the 3 speakers the bill was put off until next week.

It’s going to take people to get involved in this fight to help stop abuse of horses in Tennessee.

So why is Farm Bureau so opposed to the bill? I spoke with several agents outside in the hallway and here’s what I heard. One guy said he owns a backhoe and buries dead horses “all the time,” that people couldn’t afford to feed. He doesn’t think those people should be made criminals. It should be noted that the Farm Bureau Ins company does support horse slaughter and that was banned in Tennessee last year. Apparently that issue “isn’t dead” and a new bill may be coming up again for that too. I’d love to see if anybody connected with any new horse slaughter bills would stand to gain $$$ by a bill like that passing again. Follow the money…money and horses in Tennessee have a shady history. That’s true when there’s a lot of money involved anywhere. No different in this case.

Another Farm Bureau agent said he thinks farmers are being threatened by animal lovers that never stepped foot on a farm. Almost everyone I saw there supporting HB3386 have horses and farms. Most of the people I met at the fairgrounds volunteering to help with the rescued horses were horse owners themselves, owned farms and/or worked in the horse industry. We don’t want to stop farmers from earning a living. We want to stop greedy horse brokers that buy dozens of horses cheap in the hope they can make money on the best of the lot. The rest, too weak, skinny or sick to sell get put on private acreage to die. There are a few ignorant back yard horse owners but the main problem i think are these brokers, traders if you will. Horses are a thing to sell like a car. Well, they are not a “thing.” They are a living being and they feel pain and suffer. Tennessee law looks the other way and at the most will slap an occasional wrist. That’s wrong and if that stays the case, then Tennessee is not the “horse country” I thought it was.

We can do better. Rep. Sontany can’t go up against these guys alone. She’s offered to step in front of the parade but it’s up to all of us to fall in and march. If you make a living in the Tennessee horse industry now would be a good time to call Janis Sontany’s office and offer to help. Anyone else too…Farm Bureau associate members speak out. The Farm Bureau Ins company is saying “they represent thousands of members.” Have they ask you how you feel about this issue? These magnificent animals have no voice unless we lend them ours. Call the people on the agriculture committee and tell them to support HB3386. Call the Farm Bureau Insurance Company and tell them (if you’re a member) that they don’t represent your views on this issue.

Pass this along to everyone you know.
Thanks, Val Reynolds/Avalonfarms@hughes.net

The members of the House Agriculture Committee are: Committee OfficersStratton Bone, Chair (615) 741-7086 rep.stratton.bone@capitol.tn.govDale Ford, Vice Chair (615) 741-1717 rep.dale.ford@capitol.tn.govWillie Butch Borchert, Secretary (615) 741-6804 rep.willie.borchert@capitol.tn.gov MembersEddie Bass (615) 741-1864 rep.eddie.bass@capitol.tn.govChad Faulkner (615) 741-3335 rep.chad.faulkner@capitol.tn.govCurits ;Halford (615) 741-7478 rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.govJohn Litz (615) 741-6877 rep.john.litz@capitol.tn.govSteve McDaniel (615) 741-0750 rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.govFrank Niceley (615) 741-4419 rep.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.govJohnny Shaw (615) 741-4538 rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.govTerri Lynn Weaver (615) 741-2192 rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.govJohn Mark Windle (615) 741-1260 rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov

http://www.nashvillescene.com/2010-03-11/news/the-worst-case-of-equine-abuse-in-Tennessee-history-shocked-the-state-so-why-is-legislation-that-would-stop-the-abuse-meeting-so-much-resistance/

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Help make it a felony to starve horses and farm animals in Tennessee

I spoke with Janis Sontany and she really needs help to get HB3386 passed. The agriculture committee for the most part is not wanting to deal with this. They are going to need to hear from us or they are going to basically blow it off. Please call the people on the committee and tell them how you feel. Is it ok to look the other way while horses and other livestock are allowed to starve? We protect dogs & cats but not horses? Tell them how you feel. If you know members of the press ask them to come Tuesday, March 16th at 9am on Capitol Hill Room 28. If you can, show up yourself. I’m going and so are other horse enthusiasts and people who care enough to speak for these animals that cannot speak for themselves.

I grew up learning that Tennessee was not only home to “Music City” but that it was “horse country” as well. Growing up in New England, I read about it in school text books and saw pictures of rolling grass pastures full of horses. That’s one of the reasons I moved here. As a musician/songwriter and an equestrian, music and horses are two huge interests of mine and Middle Tennessee offered both. My partner & I purchased a horse farm in 1998 and there are currently 15 horses under my care here at Avalon Farms.

From the history of the Thoroughbreds at Belle Meade Mansion to the $260million+ Walking Horse Industry to the thousands of stables and backyard horse owners in every equine discipline, Tennessee horse lovers and businesses are big business for Tennessee. We should be setting the standard for folks around the country. With all this we have no law to protect them from neglect. A person in Tennessee can starve them, lock them up without care or water until they die and expect no more than the equivalent of a traffic ticket. A slap on the wrist…

Now, a bill is being introduced to the agriculture committee (HB3386) to make it a felony to starve these and other farm animals. Rep. Janis Sontany is introducing it after witnessing for herself, the 84 starved horses from Cannon County in November. She came down to the fairgrounds where many of us were volunteering to feed them and care for them under the supervision of the National Humane Society. I held horses for the farriers that voluteered their time to trim feet. I saw hooves with frogs completely rotted away from standing in their own excrement. I saw feet with shoes that had been left on for months and growth so long that they could barely walk. I saw many horses so underweight that from my own experience I know it would take a year or more to bring them back to a healthy condition if they survived at all.

Together we can put a stop to this or at least help make it where offenders are punished for cruel treetment like this. It really is going to take us all speaking out to stop the senseless suffering of these magnificent animals. Pick up the phone, email the members of the committee. Tell Janis Sontany thanks for standing up for these wonderful creatures and let her know she’s not alone in this fight. You can reach Janis at JANIS SONTANY
STATE REPRESENTATIVE
53RD LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT

32 LEGISLATIVE PLAZA
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37243-0153
PHONE (615-) 741-6861
FAX (615) 253-0325
E-MAIL:
rep.janis.sontany@legislature.state.tn.us

Pass this along to everyone you know.
Thanks, Val Reynolds/Avalonfarms@hughes.net

The members of the House Agriculture Committee are: Committee OfficersStratton Bone, Chair (615) 741-7086 rep.stratton.bone@capitol.tn.govDale Ford, Vice Chair (615) 741-1717 rep.dale.ford@capitol.tn.govWillie Butch Borchert, Secretary (615) 741-6804 rep.willie.borchert@capitol.tn.gov MembersEddie Bass (615) 741-1864 rep.eddie.bass@capitol.tn.govChad Faulkner (615) 741-3335 rep.chad.faulkner@capitol.tn.govCurits ;Halford (615) 741-7478 rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.govJohn Litz (615) 741-6877 rep.john.litz@capitol.tn.govSteve McDaniel (615) 741-0750 rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.govFrank Niceley (615) 741-4419 rep.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.govJohnny Shaw (615) 741-4538 rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.govTerri Lynn Weaver (615) 741-2192 rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.govJohn Mark Windle (615) 741-1260 rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov

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