published Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Celebrities join opposition to Tennessee animal abuse bill

A frame captured from video of a Humane Society of the United States investigation show the measures taken to produce the exaggerated stride of Tennessee Walking Horses. In the video, horses are struck with clubs, shocked and have their hooves treated with chemicals and mechanical devices.
A frame captured from video of a Humane Society of the United States investigation show the measures taken to produce the exaggerated stride of Tennessee Walking Horses. In the video, horses are struck with clubs, shocked and have their hooves treated with chemicals and mechanical devices.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Celebrities are joining the opposition to an animal abuse bill in Tennessee that is waiting for the governor’s signature.

Nashville singer Emmylou Harris penned a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Friday asking him to veto the bill that would require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours.

Harris wrote that the bill would “paralyze the efforts of those concerned about the treatment of animals to collect evidence of a pattern of routine cruelty.”

Ellen DeGeneres also posted a video on her website on Wednesday of an interview with Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, which has launched TV ads about the bill.

The Humane Society collected undercover video images at the Collierville stable of horse trainer Jackie McConnell that was used by federal authorities to bring charges against McConnell. Charges under the Horse Protection Act brought McConnell a three-year probationary sentence and a $75,000 fine last year.

Pacelle said more states are considering what he called “ag gag” bills that would limit his group’s efforts to uncover animal abuse at factories and on farms.

“These kinds of undercover videos catch a lot of things,” DeGeneres said. “It’s important to keep that going.”

DeGeneres promised that if 25,000 of her fans shared the video on Facebook, she would donate $25,000 to the Humane Society.

Haslam has said he would look into the details of the bill, but he did not say he would veto it.

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