Tag Archives: 84 starving horses

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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Action Alert: Update on HB3386 Make Starving Horses & Livestock a Felony

Hi there,
Here’s the latest on a bill to make it a felony to starve horses. There’s more to it than that but this what came out of the fairgrounds horses case from cannon county. https://avalonfarmblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/84-seized-horses-update/
I plan to go to the hill next tuesday at 9am when it is introduced. Please read the letter from Janis Sontany. (below) I know for a fact she went out to see the 84 horses herself in November and vowed to present this bill. Please try to be there or at the very least…call the people on the committee and tell them to support HB3386. The animals don’t have a voice in this. It’s up to us and Janis is going up against Insurance lobbiest that are not willing to compromise. Let’s all help her in this fight.-Val

valerie reynolds
Speak softly and carry a carrot stick

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

188 CHILTON STREET
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37211
(615) 331-7616

House of Representatives
State of Tennessee

NASHVILLE

SECRETARY
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

COMMITEES
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
FINANCE WAYS AND MEANS

SUB COMMITTEE
CRIMINAL PRACTICE, CHAIR
I hope this finds you and your family doing well and looking forward to Spring.

Each of you has contacted me over the past few months regarding the starving horses rescued from Cannon County and taken to the Fairgrounds here in Nashville. I promised then that I would introduce legislation that would make withholding food and/or water from any animal a felony and that I would update you on the progress and ask for your continued help. It makes no sense to me to have two different penalties – aggravated animal cruelty with a felony penalty for companion animals and a misdemeanor for the same action for “livestock”. Cruelty is cruelty regardless if you are 3 lbs. or 16 hands high. How can we continue to say that it is far worse to starve a dog than to starve a horse?

When the horses were at the Fairgrounds, I was asked by the media why the penalty for starving these horses was only a misdemeanor. My answer simply was Farm Bureau Insurance Company. This company has always demanded different laws for “livestock”.

When I first drafted this legislation, I met with Farm Bureau Insurance Company’s lobbyists to try to find some common ground. I was told that starving these horses didn’t rise to the level of aggravated animal cruelty and the current law was working just fine and they refused to negotiate.

Last week, Farm Bureau’s President, Lacy Upchurch, and their Chief Administrative Officer, Julius Johnson, visited my office to discuss my bill. I was so in hopes that we could negotiate in good faith to have a bill that we both could agree on that would stop this continued cruelty. They, however, only wanted to express to me their concern that this legislation would land some poor farmer in jail for dehorning his cattle. My bill clearly exempts accepted veterinary practices and makes no mention of discontinuing current tax breaks for farmers on livestock.

I offered to file an amendment that would require the sworn statement of a veterinarian that the animal/animals were starved – deprived of food and/or water or abused in a depraved or sadistic manner before criminal charges could be filed, to no avail. Mr. Upchurch and Mr. Johnson wouldn’t agree to that either – they said there would be too much gray area. Clearly, they didn’t come in good faith to negotiate.

This cruelty continues to happen. There were the 20 horses in Sumner County that were reported starved, three in Smith County – one of which was already dead and the other two found with no food or water nearly starved to death. And, then there was the incident in Bedford County where over 100 head of cattle were found starved to death.

I was told that Farm Bureau Insurance Company has 650,000 members across Tennessee. When I asked how many of them had input on their positions and policies, I was told not 650,000 but a very small percentage. I think all their members need to know their position on animal cruelty and if they don’t agree with the company’s position, they should contact Mr. Upchurch 931-388-7872 x 2201 and Mr. Johnson at 931-388-7872 x 2205 and express their disagreement and dissatisfaction.

This bill addresses more than starvation of animals. It also addresses other forms of animal cruelty. There was a woman in Sweetwater last year whose husband got mad at her and dragged her favorite horse behind his truck until the animal was almost dead. To finish him off he stabbed him with a pitch fork. When the woman contacted the district attorney in her area, she was told that they would not prosecute this action because it was a misdemeanor and wasn’t worth their time. My bill would make this action a felony as well. A misdemeanor is like getting a traffic ticket.

I plan to bring HB3386 before the House Agriculture Committee on 3/16 at 9:00 a.m. I invite any of you that can to join me that day to show support for this bill. I know that for many of you that won’t be possible, however, I respectfully ask that you get this message out to any and all that are interested in supporting our legislation and also ask that you contact the members of the House Agriculture Committee to ask for their support. It will take all of us working together to get this legislation passed.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office at 615-741-6861 or 615-331-7616.

The members of the House Agriculture Committee are:

Committee Officers
Stratton Bone, Chair (615) 741-7086 rep.stratton.bone@capitol.tn.gov
Dale Ford, Vice Chair (615) 741-1717 rep.dale.ford@capitol.tn.gov
Willie Butch Borchert, Secretary (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
Curits ;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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