Jackie McConnell, 61 a Collierville horse trainer is expected to plead guilty tomorrow in the United States District Court Chattanooga, TN to one felony charge of violating the Horse Protection Act. McConnell was videotaped beating a horse and using electric prods in order to teach the horse not to flinch when it was examined for soring.
An undercover worker from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) secretly videotaped the egregious beatings and inhumane treatment inflicted upon Tennessee Walking Horses last year.
McConnell was originally charged with 52 federal counts of violating the Horse Protection Act which makes soring illegal. The practice consists of irritating a horse's forelegs throught the injection or application of irritating chemicals which cause burns and lacerations. Some trainers use inhumane hoof trimmings, add heavy chains to already burned and sore ankles, or fit horses with pressure shoes all of which cause the horses to quickly lift their front legs up just to relieve the pain.
McConnell, in a plea bargain is expected to plead guilty to one felony charge of transporting and showing horses that were sored. If the judge accepts McConnell's plea, other charges will be dropped.
Three other men, John Mays, Jeff Dockery, and Joseph Abernathy are expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges.
Keith Dane, director of the HSUS equine protection urges Congress to discontinue the self-regulation of the Tennessee Walking Horses organizations and stiffen penalties.
According to the Horse Protection Act, a criminal violator can spend up to two years in prison and be fined up to $5,000. If a trainer is disqualified, he may attend horse events but only as a spectator and is not allowed to participate in any other matter.
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