Posted October 18, 2001
Copyright - Shelbyville, Tennessee - The following letter sent by Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon to Dr. Craig Reed, administrator for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services. The Report commends Congressman Gordon for his follow-up on behalf of the breed and will print the response to his letter when it becomes available.

Dr. Craig Reed
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
1400 Independence Ave SW, Rm 312-E
Washington, D.C. 20250-0002

Dear Dr. Reed,

Most recent reports indicate that implementation of the multi-year operating plan has been successful. I am hopeful that this cooperative spirit continues for the remainder of this season and in the years to come. Again, I appreciate your efforts to develop a reasonable, workable operating plan.

As you may recall, in a meeting we both attended on June 21, 2001, I voiced my concerns about the actions of one USDA veterinarian and the disproportionate number of horses that are "written-up" and sent to conflict resolution when they are inspecting. In short, their appearance at a horse show causes chaos. Trainers, breeders and exhibitors are reluctant to show their horses when they are present.

A recent example was the July 13 Walking Horse Owners' Youth Association Jamboree Horse Show in my hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Of the 200 horses that planned to show, there were 45 entries in 30 classes. I am sure you would agree that this clearly identifies a proble. I would be more than happy to provide further specifics upon your request.

During our June 21, 2001 meeting, former Under Secretary Dunn committed to a complete investigation into any improprieties on the part of department inspectors. It is my understanding that your office assigned an investigator, George Justice, who went to several walking horse shows to observe. I am very interested in his findings, the complete findings of the investigation and what action your office has taken to address my concerns about the conduct of these few rogue VMOs.

Like you, I believe we must remove all the "bad actors" from the walking horse community, including nefarious department inspectors. I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your quick response. Please feel free to contact me directly or Louis Finkel of my staff with any questions that you may have.

Bart Gordon
Member of Congress