Larry Wheelon, 68, of Maryville
Randall Stacy Gunter
(WBIR-Maryville) Authorities have dropped all charges against three people who worked at a Blount County horse farm.
Stacy Gunter, Brandon Lunsford and Blake Primrose worked with Tennessee walking horses that were the subject of an abuse investigation in April.
Authorities charged trainer Larry Wheelon with animal cruelty. They accused him of "soring" or injecting chemical into the hooves of Tennessee Walking Horses, to accentuate their pronounced gait.
Authorities filed charges against Gunter, Lunsford, and Primrose several weeks later.
A Blount County judge dismissed the case against Wheelon earlier this month due to a technicality. Now all charges are off against the other three.
Blount County District Attorney General Mike Flynn is considering taking Wheelon's case before a grand jury.
Two more people have been arrested in connection with a horse soring investigation in Blount County, and additional arrests are possible.
According to a press release from the Blount County Humane Society, Randall Stacy Gunter of Louisville, and Brandon Lunsford of Walland, were arrested this week. Investigators say both men worked with Tennessee walking horses that were abused at a local farm.
Maryville horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon was charged in April with felony animal cruelty on suspicions of soring, an abusive practice involving the application of caustic chemicals and devices to the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses to deliberately inflict pain and force the horses to perform the artificial high-stepping 'Big Lick' gait for the show ring.
19 horses were seized from the farm.
The arrest warrants allege that Gunter and Lunsford worked with horses who had suffered serious bodily injuries, were discovered to have had chemicals and other foreign substances applied to their pasterns, and responded in pain when their legs were palpated by veterinarians. Additional arrests are possible, as the investigation remains on-going.
"Some of the horses were barely able to walk from the pain. Anyone who was complicity in their suffering should be held accountable-and that includes owners who may have knowingly put their horses in the hands of abusers," said Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS. "We encourage law enforcement to continue aggressively investigating anyone who participated in these cruel and illegal practices."
The HSUS offers a reward of up to $10,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a violator of the Horse Protection Act or any state law which prohibits horse soring. Anyone with information on this practice should call The HSUS' tipline at 855-NO-SORING. The HSUS will protect the identity of all callers.