WASHINGTON, DC – The Tennessean Washington Bureau Chief Paul C. Barton’s article raises an issue regarding the fairness and impartiality of long time Tennessee Walking Horse operative “VAC” Head Vet Dr. Jerry Johnson.
ALL AMERICAN WALKING HORSE ALLIANCE WEIGHS IN
Mr. Howard, please answer the questions you WERE going to answer, but so far, have not answered:
* How much is the “VAC” being paid?
* How much is Mr. Blankenship being paid?
* When will you make public the contract which Mr.Blankenship says will ensure that the “VAC” will be independent.
* How do you justify your opposition to the PAST ACT with the fact that the Saddlebred Horse Association endorses the PAST ACT, and you own the Saddlebred Horse Report and your daughter Christy Howard Parsons is the Editor?
* Why does your daughter Christy Howard Parsons on November 30, 2013 say “Because soring is a major problem, and you continue to deny that soring is a major problem?
* How do you explain the public not attending the 2014 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration?
Clant M. Seay, Spokesperson, All American Walking Horse Alliance.
Humane Society: Article casts doubt on vet’s fairness in Walking Horse issue
WASHINGTON ““ Proponents of legislation to increase federal oversight of the walking horse industry called into question Tuesday the impartiality of an appointee to a new industry-created organization overseeing inspections at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville.
The Humane Society of the United States released a copy of a scholarly article that veterinarian Jerry H. Johnson of Lexington, Ky., wrote more than two decades ago that described the 1970 Horse Protection Act, the original federal law to stop horse soring, as hugely successful.
The Humane Society says the article echoes industry arguments that soring isn’t a major problem.
Johnson is one of the three appointees to the new Veterinary Advisory Council, which the Celebration created to reassure the public it was doing everything possible to discourage soring during the 11-day event that ends Saturday night.
Tom Blankenship, spokesman for the VAC, confirmed that the Celebration is paying Johnson and the other two veterinarians “” Dallas O. Goble and Phillip D. Hammock “” to serve on the council.
During the Celebration, Blankenship said, 100 horses have had their lower leg and hooves X-rayed and “there have been no foreign objects detected.”
He also said blood tests to detect chemical agents used to mask soring have been performed on about 250 horses, but the results won’t be known until sometime next month. The blood has been sent to a lab used by the Kentucky Racing Commissionin Lexington.
Blankenship said third party groups would not be allowed to view the X-rays.
Widely seen as cruel, soring involves using caustic chemicals, foreign objects and special pads and chains on a walking horse’s lower front legs and hooves to make them recoil in pain when they touch ground. That results in a higher-stepping gait known as the “Big Lick.”
In his article, Johnson wrote, “In conclusion, the Horse Protection Act has been very effective in all but eliminating soring in the Tennessee Walking Horse as evidenced by few to no cases cited for more than 12 years.”
The period involved was 1976-1988, and the article was published in 1992 in the Proceedings of the 38th Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Statistics on compliance with the 1970 law have become central to debate over the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act now before Congress.
Keith Dane, head of equine issues for the Humane Society and a PAST Act supporter, said Johnson’s article reflects the still-pervading industry view that the 1970 law needs only tinkering at most, not the overhaul called for by the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act now before Congress.
“By spreading this misinformation to his colleagues at AAEP, he helped to prop up the faÃ§ade that soring was no longer a problem and the Horse Protection Act was a success, and thus helped to condemn generations of Tennessee Walking Horses to decades of further abuse,” Dane said.
“His involvement again today could have the same continued effect.”
Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes compliance-rate statistics “” usually showing at least 97 percent conformity “” the numbers come from the industry’s self-regulatory bodies, not federal officials.
Lacking funds in the 1970s to police all horse shows itself, USDA, with the approval of Congress, allowed the industry to set up “horse industry organizations” around the country to carry out the job “” with the industry paying its own inspectors.
While USDA’s own inspectors make unannounced appearances at some shows, they can only appear at about 10 percent of events because of budget limitations. The PAST would vastly increase the number of federal inspectors.
Regardless, Blankenship said Johnson’s qualifications were “beyond reproach” and that the article was nothing more than a review of then-available statistics. He said Johnson was not toeing the industry’s views.
“The contents of the article do not support that assertion,” Blankenship said.
Nephew Eugene thinks he might, just might, hear that train a comin’.