A Fayette County Grand Jury has indicted horse abuser Jackie McConnell and two co-defendants on 38 counts of animal cruelty for illegally soring and ill-treating horses, court documents show.
The charges relate to the findings of an undercover investigation conduted by the Humane Society of the United States in 2011.
A well-known walking horse trainer, McConnell is now notorious for horse abuse following a federal felony conviction for conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act.
McConnell has been indicted on 22 counts of animal cruelty in Fayette County, for charges stemming from footage captured by an HSUS investigator of McConnell and his associates beating horses and using painful chemicals on their legs – an illegal practice known as soring.
Soring is the method trainers use to force Tennessee walking horses to perform the exaggerated, artificial gait known as the Big Lick.
McConnell is already serving three years of probation and has been fined $US75,000 for his federal felony conviction.
“We commend District Attorney General Mike Dunavant and Assistant District Attorney General Mark Davidson for filing criminal charges against McConnell and his co-defendants — the first case of its kind in Tennessee,” the society’s director of equine protection, Keith Dane, said.
“Unfortunately, the owners who placed their horses in McConnell’s training stables have not expressed the slightest regret or remorse for the torture these animals endured, and still need to be held accountable.”
McConnell’s co-defendants in the federal case, John Mays and Jeff Dockery, were also indicted. Mays was charged with 13 counts and Dockery with three counts. Both men pleaded guilty to lesser charges in federal court for their role in the conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act.
Since 2011, the humane society has assisted the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, and the Tennessee 25th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office in prosecuting the offenders and assisting in the rescue of horses from McConnell’s training operation.
In March last year, eight horses were seized from McConnell’s stable following the execution of a search and seizure warrant.
At the state’s request, and at great expense, the HSUS has been providing the horses with intensive rehabilitative care for the past year and will continue to do so.