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

  • Latest Issue 3 1 31

    Read More
  • Walking In The Smokies stall deadline approaching

    The Walking In The Smokies Horse Show, scheduled for April 8-10, 2021, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is preparing for their first annual show and would like to send a reminder to anyone needing stalls that the deadline is March 15. Please contact Lexi Stinnett at 828-550-8520 to reserve stalls on the show grounds. Read More
  • Trainers' Show announces judges

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association National Trainers’ Show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. March 18-20, 2021. Judges for the three-day event will be Wayne Dean, Newton Parks and Johnny Puckett. Read More
  • USDA prepares for 2021 show season

    The USDA recently conducted their virtual HIO training course for the 2021 show season. The USDA and industry recently received the final report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and some of the recommendations in that report are communicated in the new processes the USDA will implement in 2021... Read More
  • WHOA hosts virtual awards ceremony

    On Saturday. February 20th, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held their National High Point awards for 2020 on their WHOA Facebook page with winners who chose to be zooming in to accept their awards... Read More
  • WHOA to host virtual awards ceremony on February 20

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) will recognize their award winners from the 2020 show season during a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20, 2021. The show will be broadcast live on WHOA’s Facebook page beginning at 6 pm central time. Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase announces judging panel

    The FAST Spring Showcase is pleased to announce that John Fikes, Newton Parks and Sam Sorrell will judge this years’ two-day event. The show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. April 16-17, 2021... Read More
  • Obituary – Kimberly Woods

    Kimberly Lynn Woods, age 47 departed this life on Sunday, February 14, 2021 at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky... Read More
  • WHAA annual barn party rescheduled due to inclement weather

    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
  • Birth Announcement – William Jackson Bauer

    Dr. & Mrs. Will  Bauer of Gainesville, Georgia welcomed their first child, William Jackson Bauer, on December 4, 2020. Jack weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces at birth... Read More