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
Speak softly and carry a carrot stick
53RD LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT
32 LEGISLATIVE PLAZA
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37243-0153
PHONE (615-) 741-6861
FAX (615) 253-0325
188 CHILTON STREET
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37211
House of Representatives
State of Tennessee
FINANCE WAYS AND MEANS
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:
Stratton Bone, Chair (615) 741-7086 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dale Ford, Vice Chair (615) 741-1717 email@example.com
Willie Butch Borchert, Secretary (615) 741-6804 firstname.lastname@example.org
Eddie Bass (615) 741-1864 email@example.com
Chad Faulkner (615) 741-3335 firstname.lastname@example.org
Curits ;Halford (615) 741-7478 email@example.com
John Litz (615) 741-6877 firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve McDaniel (615) 741-0750 email@example.com
Frank Niceley (615) 741-4419 firstname.lastname@example.org
Johnny Shaw (615) 741-4538 email@example.com
Terri Lynn Weaver (615) 741-2192 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Mark Windle (615) 741-1260 email@example.com