Cruelty Charges against Arkansas Horse Trader Dropped

Cruelty charges against an Arkansas horse trader accused of maltreating more than 100 animals have been dropped.

In 2011, Fulton County, Arkansas, sheriff’s deputies discovered more than 100 allegedly malnourished and neglected animals after responding to a call for help in rounding up escaped horses that had wandered onto a nearby highway. The responding deputy discovered the allegedly maltreated animals residing in a 6-acre corral on property owned by horse dealer Rodney Kankey. Sheriff's deputies also found horse carcasses at the scene.

At Fulton County authorities’ request, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Humane Society of the United States personnel began investigating conditions at the property. Subsequently, acting on a warrant, authorities removed 116 horses from the site. Kankey was later charged with five felony and 113 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Fulton County Circuit Court Clerk Vickie Bishop said Kankey appeared in court on May 12 and all the charges against him were dropped.

Kankey was not available for comment.

Fulton County Persecutor Don McSpadden said the charges were dropped due to a number of flaws in the case. McSpadden said Kankey was a horse trader who frequently bought horses that were sickly or otherwise in bad condition and rehabilitated them for resale. Kankey was in jail 11 days prior to the issuance of the search warrant, and his wife continued to buy horses during that time, McSpadden said.

“We don't know who put the horses there,” McSpadden said.

McSpadden also said the prosecution had “some problems with the credibility of some of the witnesses in the case." 

Finally, there were problems with the search warrant connected to the case, McSpadden said.

McSpadden said he gave the ASPCA the opportunity to pick up the case's prosecution, but the agency declined.

In a written statement, the ASPCA said the agency believes Kankey mistreated the animals: “Although the ASPCA firmly believes Rodney Kankey is guilty of animal cruelty, we recognize the challenges to a successful prosecution and understand the state’s decision to dismiss the charges. The most important outcome in this case has been achieved: rescuing the horses and providing the majority of them with a second chance for a good life.”

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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