Bill Planned To Make Animal Starvation A Felony

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Eighty-four horses rescued last Tuesday by The Humane Society of the United States and the Cannon County Sheriff's Department are gaining strength at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

"The Humane Society of the United States is extremely grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support that has allowed us to successfully rescue and care for these 84 neglected horses," said Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS.

"We are especially appreciative of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and Tractor Supply Company, which has generously donated a $5,000 gift certificate to The HSUS to purchase supplies needed to care for the horses."

During a press conference Tuesday morning, State Rep. Janis Sontany announced that she plans to draft a bill designed to include starvation of any animal in the felony penalty statutes. Currently only dogs and cats are included in the felony statute for starvation.

Two Cannon County men, father and son Charles E. Howland and Clint Howland, are scheduled to be arraigned next week in Cannon County General Sessions Court. They were charged last week with cruelty to animals after the Humane Society and Sheriff's Department conducted a search-and-rescue mission at their farm along Jim Cummings Highway in the Midway Community.

The charges they face are misdemeanors, the strongest available under current state law.

Along with the horses, The HSUS led the rescue of eight dogs, two goats and 14 chickens from the property — animals who have since been transferred to rescue groups.

Following massive amounts of local interest in this rescue, The HSUS has posted the following Q&A on their Web site to provide critical information to those interested in assisting with this rescue.

Q: Do you need donations?

A: The outpouring of support we have received from the community during this rescue has been incredible. We are grateful for this generosity. We have nearly run out of storage space and are in need of only a few specific items. At this time monetary donations are preferred, as costs for veterinary and farrier services for these horses will be extremely high. Please click here to donate directly to this rescue mission.

Q: Is there a need for volunteers?

A: Because of the outpouring of support we have received, it is necessary for us to schedule volunteer assistance. If you would like to volunteer or are a veterinarian, veterinary technician or farrier and would like to assist with the care of these horses, please email your contact information and availability to

Q: Are the horses available to be adopted?

A: Because of their poor health, the horses will need to gain strength at the emergency shelter before they are placed with rescue groups. We will place the horses with several responsible, appropriate equine rescue groups. These groups will then adopt the horses out to members of the public. We will make a list of rescue groups taking in horses available as soon as it is finalized. If you are interested in being added to the waiting list of interested adopters, please email:

Q: Which agencies, corporations, etc. have helped make this effort possible?

A: This rescue would not have been possible without the generous local support we have received. As the lead animal welfare agency in this rescue The HSUS asked several groups for assistance. We would especially like to thank the Cannon County Sheriff's Department, Tractor Supply Company, the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, Whole Foods, Franklin Equine Hospital, Tennessee Equine Hospital, Equine Veterinary Service, Volunteer Equine Advocates, United Animal Nations, A Place to Bark, Purina, Farmer's Co-Op, PF Chang's, Garden Café, The Yellow Porch, Blackstone and Music City Horseshoer's Association.
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