Skip to content

HSUS Horse Seizure May Violate Tennessee Law



reprinted from HumaneWatch.org

Last week we reported on the April 2013 seizure of horses from Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Wheelon on the basis of alleged animal cruelty, during which the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) assisted a local SPCA in taking the animals. Authorities dropped the charges against Wheelon in August and then a grand jury indicted him in December. But the horses may have been treated worse while HSUS was footing the bill for the their care at a secret location after the seizure. According to the complaint, when the horses were returned in November, “it was apparent that they had been granted substandard care and were in poorer condition than when they were seized.”

Now we're learning that the seizure itself may have been illegal under Tennessee law. According to the Tennessee Attorney General, the Tennessee General Assembly clearly defines in Chapter 14, Part 2, of Title 39 of the Tennessee Code that private humane societies cannot seize private animals: “[N]either Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-210(f) nor Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-207(b) provide authorization for removal of animals from the custody of another by agents of private humane societies.”

While the Tennessee Code recognizes the right of public law enforcement to seize animals and place them under the custody of a private humane society, it is very clear: “Neither of these provisions provide express authorization for agents of private humane societies to remove an animal from the custody of another.” The seizure, according to media, was conducted by the local SPCA and HSUS only. (The attorney general also notes that humane groups are only able to bring criminal charges for acts regarding non-livestock animals – and horses are livestock under TN law.)

Based on this information, perhaps there should be a new grand jury: One examining HSUS's conduct in this case.

More Stories

  • ‘FAST’ thinking for the future

    FAST, a group within the walking horse industry behind much of the fundraising efforts used to support the walking horse industry, is gearing up for its inaugural strategic planning session, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 in Shelbyville, Tennessee... Read More
  • Obituary – Gary Hollin

    Gary Lee Hollin, 69, of Danielsville, passed away on Thursday, January 16, 2020. Born in Manchester, Kentucky, he was the son of the late Roy Verdon Hollin and Pauline Sams Hollin. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Phyllis Lunsford... Read More
  • Latest Issue 1 20 20

    Read More
  • Obituary – Betty Tisher

    Betty Davis Tisher, 89, resident of Columbia, died Tuesday January 14, 2020 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at 2:00 P.M. at Pleasant Heights Baptist Church with Dr. Robert Jody Gamble and Brother Bob Vasser officiating. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens... Read More
  • Obituary – James Allen May

    James “Allen” May, 66, husband to Becky Cummins May, entered into his eternal rest Friday morning, January 10, 2020 at his business in Augusta, Georgia. Funeral services to celebrate his life will be held at 2:00 P.M. Tuesday afternoon, January 14, 2020 at InMotion Church in Thomson, Georgia with Pastor Scott Franklin officiating. Read More
  • WHOA announces Board of Directors Election Results

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association is proud to announce the following candidates were elected to the WHOA Board of Directors by the WHOA Membership... Read More
  • Obituary – Kenneth Callicutt

    On Wednesday, January 8, 2020 with his family by his side, Kenneth Landon Callicutt went home to be with the Lord... Read More
  • Obituary – Paul Bryan, Jr.

    Funeral services for Paul Wilson Bryan, Jr., 82, will be held at Trinity Anglican Church, Thomasville, GA at 11:00 am on Thursday, January 9. Following the service, the family will host visitors at a reception at Trinity Anglican Church... Read More
  • WHAA hosts barn party and auction

    There will be a lot of great items to auction as well as breeding fees to some of the top stallions in the industry and training fees for many of the top trainers. Everyone is encouraged to bring your young horses to preview for the upcoming show season. Read More
  • Smoky Mountain Walking Horse Association offers scholarship

    The Smoky Mountain Walking Horse Association wishes to announce the offering of a college scholarship of $500 to a qualified applicant... Read More