The last thing probably on anyone’s mind when they think of Tennessee is animal rights. They’d be wrong. There's more animal rights activism in Tennessee than bottles of Jack Daniels. Tennessee is literally a hot bed of animal rights terrorism.
Some of the major offenders include McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center in Chattanooga, run by animal rights zealots with a 50% kill rate, a high "accidental" kill rate (oops' sorry we killed your dog....), and who love to illegally raid dog breeders and pet stores. Then there's Memphis, regularly blogged by YesBiscuit over the brutality and animal cruelty that happens regularly in the Animal Shelter. Yes, the Memphis Animal Shelter is a hell hole. Memphis Animal Services (MAS) is also notorious for running SWAT Team raids on animal owners and seizing their pets away from them, which only adds to their high kill rate. Both human and animal. The deaths of Donald Moore and Tommie Morgan can also be placed at the doorstep of MAS. Which is highly ironic given the fact that MAS has itself been raided over the horrific cruelty that exists in their shelter. To date at least a dozen MAS employees have been charged with animal cruelty yet conditions never seem to improve and they continue to illegally raid animal owners. Then you have Tennessee State Representative William Lamberth, an animal rights lawyer, member of the radical vegan Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) out of California, and who rose to power by prosecuting elderly animal owners and destroying their lives. What a nice guy. You'd never know about his ALDF history from his campaign website which talks about God, Country, Limited Government, Low Taxes, Farmers, and Family. Is there any other buttons he forgot to push? You know what they say about politicians... if their lips are moving. With the blazing trails of dead animals following in the wake animal rights activists in Tennessee you'd think they'd learn to be more circumspect. Nah! Their arrogance knows no bounds.
It should then surprise no one that they took on and raided the Wheelon Stables, owned by Larry Wheelon a long time respected trainer and AAA rated Judge who was an active director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer’s Association and served on their ethics committee. This raid was part of HSUS's larger effort to destroy the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and their National Celebration show which the HSUS has campaigned against calling it the "Cruelest Show on Earth." They thought they had another Jackie McConnell situation to exploit for all it was worth. They were wrong.
In April of 2013, the HSUS and local activists from Horse Haven of Tennessee raided the Wheelon Stables "with the Blount County Sheriff's Office assisting in serving the warrant" and accused trainer Larry Wheelon of animal cruelty claiming he had been illegally “soring” the horses. Something tells me that the Blount County Sheriff's Office needs a course in the United States Constitution. Animal rights activists such as the HSUS have no legal authority to serve a search warrant. Zippo, nada, none. Additionally, the raid was headed by USDA Special Agent Julie McMillan of Nashville another person with no legal authority to lead a raid. HSUS of course immediately released one of their highly scripted press releases claiming massive horse abuse with horses in "extreme pain" on the part of Mr. Wheelon. The search warrant, like so many other animal cases, authorized a search of Mr. Wheelon's stables but did not authorize the seizure of any animals. They were taken anyway. Not only were 19 horses seized, but a dog, cash, and property were also stolen as well.
As you can expect, the activists knowing nothing of true and correct animal care, placed 3 stallions together during the transport run. Surprising no one, one stallion attacked another causing a serious body injury. The activists were warned repeatedly to get the horse emergency veterinary help but they ignored the instructions. When the seized horses were finally examined by multiple veterinarians, all of them were found to be in excellent condition except the injured stallion that was injured due to the ignorant handling by the activists not Mr. Wheelon.
The Case Fell Apart:
When it came time to prove their case in court, they had none. In a courtroom packed with Mr. Wheelon's supporters, the judge dismissed the charges of aggravated animal cruelty against Mr. Wheelon saying there was no probable cause to continue the case.
“Justice was served,” said Eugene Condry, a former Maryville High School teacher. “This reminds me of Nazi Germany ... the way these horses were seized.”
“It’s good to see the 4th and 5th amendments to be Constitution being upheld and due process of law being achieved,” added Tom Garren, a pharmacist for 35 years from Monroe County.
After the case was dismissed, Larry Wheelon spoke out about his ordeal. He said, "We love this industry and these horse(s) and we're not going to do nothing to abuse this horse," Wheelon said Tuesday. "You got $50,000 and you're going to go out and abuse it? I don't think so." While the case is over, legally speaking, Wheelon said he still is facing a court of public opinion. "I've told all my owners I was sorry this was happening, and I hate what they're going through. I've got some customers that have been with me since 1965," said Wheelon."
But the case is not over, The animal animals movement is determined to not take this defeat laying down. Even though a District Court Judge dismissed the charges against Mr. Wheelon saying there simply wasn't enough real evidence to go on, animal rights activists are pressing hard to force the District Attorney to attempt to continue prosecuting Mr. Wheelon in Circuit Court. The activists made a big deal out of prosecution witness USDA Dr. Bart Sutherland not being allowed to testify due to a technicality but what they won't tell you is that USDA horse inspectors have already been outed during a FOIA request as admitting in government emails that they know nothing about horses and some of them actually hate horses.
On August 20, the Judge ordered, “the 19 horses being held in this case by the state of Tennessee and in the custody of the HSUS be returned immediately to the owners.” But the horses aren't in Tennessee. HSUS shipped them out of state immediately after the raid to Texas. Not only that, but court records claim that USDA agent Julie McMillan gave two of the horses to her ex-husband. Each of their owners will now have to battle to attempt to get their horses back from this combination of out of control animal rights activists and ignorant and overreaching bureaucrats looking to pad their prosecution resume.
It should also come as no surprise that HSUS has put a $5,000 bounty on owners or trainers of Walking Horses, just has they have for dog breeders. So what you are asking yourself, does this have to do with a Streetcar named Desire? Turns out it was all Much Ado About Nothing.