HSUS Offers Cash Reward to HPA Violation Tipsters

Just weeks after high-profile Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Jackie McConnell pleaded guilty to federal horse soring charges, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced its offer of a standing cash reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who violate the Horse Protection Act (HPA) by soring horses.

The HPA forbids soring, the deliberate injury to a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping, so-called "Big Lick" gait.

In February a federal grand jury in Tennessee handed down an indictment accusing McConnell and three others of violating the HPA. In May, under a plea deal, McConnell pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the HPA in various ways. Also earlier this year, Spotted Saddle Horse trainer Barney Davis pleaded guilty to HPA violations under a plea deal. The HSUS paid a $10,000 reward to an anonymous tipster for information in connection with that case.

The HSUS' standing reward offer applies to tips connected to federal HPA violations and is also offered to tipsters who report violations of state anti-soring laws including those in Tennessee where animal cruelty statutes prohibit the practice.

Marty Irby, president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA) praised the reward initiative.

"We of course remain steadfast against soring and are only interested in promoting the sound horse, (so) we applaud anyone who seeks to help enforce the Horse Protection Act, especially with the limited governing ability and limited funds TWHBEA has for enforcement," Irby said.

Teresa Bippen, spokesperson for Friends of Sound Horses, said the reward offer is a useful step toward eliminating horse soring altogether.

"The reward encourages citizens to report incidents of horse soring and highlights that soring is illegal and abusive despite being widespread in some show rings," Bippen said.

Anyone with information about HPA or state anti-soring law violators should call 301/258-1488 or email equineprotection@humanesociety.org. Callers can remain anonymous.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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