Tag Archives: animal abuse

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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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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Action Alert: Rescued Horses inspire new legislation in Tennessee

Before Thanksgiving, you will recall the 85 horses and mules removed from a farm in Cannon County. It was obvious that these horses were in very bad shape – many hundreds of pounds below normal weight. The horses were relocated to the Nashville Fairgrounds and cared for by volunteers from all over the state, many from Nashville and Middle Tennessee. At that time, I committed to filing a bill that would make the intentional withholding of food and/or water from any animal a felony. Currently, withholding food and/or water from companion animals is felony aggravated animal cruelty – to do the very same to “livestock” is a misdemeanor. It makes no sense to have one penalty for companion animals and a different one for “livestock”. Cruelty is cruelty regardless if you are 3 lbs. or 16 hands high.

Sen. Ketron and I have sponsored legislation that will make withholding food and/or water from ANY animal felony aggravated animal cruelty. The bill numbers are HB3386 and SB3546. The bill can be viewed by going to http://www.capitol.tn.gov, the legislative page will appear, go to the bottom left hand side to “find legislation”, enter the bill number and click on search. You can print the bill from there.

If you have problems, please call our office at 741-6861.

Please contact your legislators – both House and Senate – and ask for their support in passing this important legislation. It will take everyone working together.

Thanks for all your support.

Janis Sontany
State Representative – District 53
741-6861/331-7616

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There are Good People in the World

It took one individual to do so much harm to so many horses. I over heard one woman say she looked at one of the horses from behind and at first thought she was looking at a cow. The hip bones and sunken hind quarters are so pronounced in so many of them I can understand how she could think that.

I spent the morning holding (and calming) horses so the ferrier could trim the feet and remove shoes on some. The untreated thrush was so bad that one didn’t have any frog left. Live tissue was all that was left. The toes had grown over and were touching the heels. Standing in manure so long it had dried on the outside of the hooves and when he was finished we realized that some had white hooves instead of the dark brown we saw when he started.

That’s the horrible part though and there is more to tell. I want to talk about the wonderful part. The barn is full of people with the kindest hearts and giving spirits. Good to see you Louise shoveling out stalls and petting horses. I saw kissing noses when I walked by…

My wonderful trainer JR was there too calming a stallion that nobody could handle. He was able to walk him out of his stall so others could clean it and he was desensitizing it so a leg wound could be treated. When I left this afternoon it was standing quietly by his side while several humane society women showered it with love and petting.

Mary Ann and your sis, thanks for coming out to walk some of the ones that needed exercising. I know your life is busy and your own horses need your time. Josh, Jay and Jim and all the ferriers that came out today and other days to trim. It’s hard work any day but to do horses that haven’t been handled, don’t have a reason to trust people and have some of the worst cases of neglect. You guys are angels.

The humane society has been so great at organizing and providing information, tools to do the work and food for the workers too. I’m sure they are doing a ton behind the scenes to encourage people and companies to step up and make the donations needs to keep the operation going. Feed and hay is stacking up in the surrounding barns.
Tractor Supply has made a big donation of feed and shavings. I’m sure some of the tack must have come from them too but I don’t know. I just know its brand new. I heard that a woman donated $6500 and when I was leaving there was an impromptu fire bucket drill tossing box after box of brand new blankets to cover them tonight. The tempeture is dropping down to 25 degrees.

Thanks too to the local tav guy from channel 5 shooting video and covering the story. This afternoon the humane society brought in a bunch of dogs that were seized in east Tennessee. Tennessee has some serious problems with the treatment of its animals. We have problems with the law and how to punish those that abuse like this. My hope is that when this is all over what will come out of it is a law that makes it a felony to starve any animal and education for young people growing up to learn how to care for other living things.

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