Skip to content

USDA Says Step Up and Do Your Job Or We Will



Copyright WHR 2006

By Christy Howard Parsons

Dr. Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator for Animal Care of the United States Department of Agriculture, challenged the Tennessee Walking Horse industry to clean up their act in closing comments at the USDA Listening Session held today at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club in Shelbyville, Tenn.

“You are at the crossroads. You need to decide which way you are going to go. You can step up and do your job, or you put us in the position where we are forced to do it for you…We will enforce the Regulations, and more than that we will make sure that the animals are treated the way they are supposed to be treated,” concluded Dr. Gipson.

Dr. Todd Behre, Horse Protection Coordinator for Animal Care began the meeting with a summary of his thoughts on the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. Complete coverage of Dr. Behre's presentation is in a separate story in Walking Horse Report and to be posted on Walking Horse Report Online. But his straightforward, detailed presentation left little for interpretation.

He presented statistics from 2005 regarding analysis of samples taken by the “sniffer” which indicated that in the samples taken at the 2005 Tennnessee Walking Horse National Celebration 54% of the samples indicated the presence of an illegal substance, most commonly numbing agents. Samples from the 2005 Kentucky Celebration indicated that 100% of the samples taken indicated the presence of diesel fuel or another similar fuel plus numbing agents.

“The incidence of prohibited substances was much higher than I thought it was,” said Dr. Behre. Behre further explained that his promise not to prosecute cases in 2004-2005 with evidence obtained from the sniffer had expired. “In 2006, the USDA will swab to take samples for the sniffer at all the horse shows they attend,” he said. In 2005, the USDA attended 39 horse shows to conduct inspections. Dr. Behre later clarified to the Report that he will not begin using that evidence in prosecutions until he notifies people that the USDA plans to do so.

Behre also indicated that he was aware of the problem of substituting horses in inspection, of taking “designated inspection horses” and switching them for a horse intended for the show ring.

The Listening Session then took place where half a dozen members of the audience made their points to the USDA. While the session was intended to be to hear comments and suggestions regarding the Horse Protection Act, two of the six comments that were made were in regard to the Slaughter Bill which has been a recent hot topic for the USDA.

Five more members of the audience asked questions fielded by Dr. Behre regarding information from his presentation before Dr. Gipson concluded the session with his comments. Complete coverage of the listening session will follow.

More Stories

  • Obituary – Sam Hartsell

    Sam “Shot” Hartsell, age 74, of Newport, passed away Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Knoxville. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nan Hartsell and parents, Floyd and Viola McMahan Hartsell... Read More
  • WHOA announces International judging panel

    The Walking Horse Owners' is pleased to announce the three judges selected by current WHOA members. Charlie Brown, Shelli MeHaffey and Lonnie Messick will officiate the 40th Annual International Pleasure & Colt Championship.

    Read More
  • Savannah Lions Club adds classes

    The 52nd Annual Savannah Lions Club Show, scheduled for June 23 at 6:30 pm, has added two classes to their original schedule... Read More
  • Scrivner selected to judge Mid-South

    The Mid-South Walking Horse Association Show, scheduled for July 14, has selected Dickie Scrivner of Murfreesboro, Tennessee to mark the cards for this year's event. The show will be held at Pugh Bourne Park in Jackson, Tennessee.  Read More
  • Equine Obituary - Gen’s Armed & Dangerous

    The Report has recently learned of the passing of Gen’s Armed and Dangerous. The beautiful stallion was the 1994 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion. Read More
  • Ohio Valley adds class

    Ohio Valley Walking Horse Association show, scheduled for June 23 in Stanford, Kentucky, has added a 4 and Under Trail Pleasure to their show.  Read More
  • Walking For Hope Show updates

    The Walking For Hope show, scheduled for June 16, has selected Chris Zahnd to judge this year’s event. Originally scheduled to start at 4:00, the show will start at 5:00 pm. Read More
  • WHOA Versatility revises class schedule

    The Walking Horse Owners Association has added 5 classes to its June 16 show scheduled at Tennessee Tech, Hyder-Burk Facility in Cookeville, TN. The show starts at 10 am and is a casual dress show (boots, long pants, shirts with a collar) and "Youth 11 and Under" are required to wear a safety helmet. Read More
  • Putnam Co. Fair selects judge

    The Putnam County Fair and Upper Cumberland Walking Horse Association are pleased to announce that Newton Parks of Murfreesboro, Tennessee will judge this year’s event... Read More
  • Wartrace selects judge

    The 112th Anniversary Wartrace Horse Show has selected John Fikes of Hamilton, Alabama to judge this year's event and has released their class schedule... Read More