Tag Archives: horses

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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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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March 2nd Lobby Day on the Hill for Animals

The Humane Society of the United States invites you to participate in the Tennessee Humane Lobby Day at the Tennessee State Capitol Building where you’ll meet directly with your elected officials about legislation that will significantly impact animals.
Please RSVP at: http://action.humanesociety.org/site/Calendar/1798894681?view=Detail&id=101581

“I’m going and I hope to see you there too!”-Val

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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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Snow pictures from the farm!

The news says we got 5″ here. (Near Nashville) Roads too icey to drive and it’s going down to 9 degrees tonight so no thaw for another day or two. We’re fine. Try to find something to use for sledding down a hill tomorrow.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=182832&id=621835798&l=749a257d9d

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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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