Walking Horse Veterinary Inspector Leaving Office

The top veterinarian who oversees the inspections of Tennessee walking horses is leaving the Department of Agriculture's inspection office.

As the horse protection coordinator for animal care, Todd Behre, DVM, was at the heart of the controversy over inspections at last year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville.

Behre was among the inspectors who disqualified several horses in the champion class at the breed's top show in September, leading to the cancellation of the competition.

Walking horses are inspected for signs of soring, a type of abuse used to exaggerate the breed's natural high-stepping gait in the show ring.

USDA spokesman Darby Holladay said Behre has taken a new position within the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

"Dr. Behre applied and was chosen among several candidates, for a position in APHIS' Veterinary Services program. The position is a promotion," Holladay said.

Veterinary Services is charged with preventing, controlling and eliminating animal diseases, as well as monitoring and promoting animal health and productivity.

Holladay said the vet's move "will have no impact on horse protection violation cases at the 2006 Celebration or any other case from any other event or year."

With the extra attention this year on the walking horse industry, the Humane Society of the United States has named Keith Dane to serve as the group's director of equine protection.

Dane heads the St. Louis-based horse advocacy organization, Friends of Sound Horses.

Dane said he will be filling a vacant position and will work with the Humane Society to do "whatever we can to pursue enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and eliminate soring."

"If the welfare of a horse is being compromised, that's going to be a focus of ours," he said Thursday.

The Humane Society lobbies for animal rights legislation, including a move last year to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Behre could not be immediately reached for comment.

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The Associated Press


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