Animal

TWRA Launches New App with Enhanced Features

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has created an app to make it easier for residents to check licensing status and get out to enjoy wildlife. “TWRA on the Go” will provide access to Tennessee rules and regulations, use geo-locating tools to enhance the recreational experience, determine sunrise/sunset times based on GPS location and feature an interactive map to find TWRA wildlife management areas. The app also features information about where to view animals across the state.

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General Assembly to Consider Enhancement of Animal Abuse Crimes

Tennessee lawmakers seek to enhance animal abuse statutes, making a second or subsequent conviction of aggravated cruelty to animals, or a first conviction of aggravated cruelty to animals involving five or more animals a Class C felony, which comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days of incarceration. The charges are currently considered a Class E felony with no mandatory confinement. The bill — HB0852/SB1277 — is scheduled for consideration by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Feb. 27.

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Wife of Man Who Committed Suicide After Alleged Animal Abuse Facing Charges

The wife of the Cleveland dog trainer arrested and charged with animal cruelty, who died by suicide shortly thereafter, is now facing charges of her own, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports. Morgan Kinder faces six counts of aggravated cruelty to animals because of five dead snakes and one dead lizard found in her home, with an additional 16 counts of animal cruelty related to neglected dogs on the property. Her husband and owner of Kinder Dog Training, Stephen Kinder, shot himself in a Cleveland parking lot on Feb. 7 after being released on bond for the crimes.

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Greene County Groups Aid Dogs from Georgia Puppy Mill Raids

Animal rescue groups in Greene County are playing an integral role in the recovery of hundreds of dogs recently rescued from Georgia puppy mills, WJHL News reports. The Atlanta Humane Society rescued the dogs found in "extremely neglectful" conditions from properties in Georgia’s Montgomery and Candler counties. Thirty eight of the estimated 400 dogs were relinquished to the Greene Pets Foster Network, which worked with others in the community to ensure that the animals receive proper care and are safely transported to a specialty rescue program in Maryland. The owner of the puppy mills was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.

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Concerns Raised Over Use of Live Animal Mascots at Sporting Events

A viral video from the Sugar Bowl showing University of Texas’ longhorn steer Bevo breaking through an enclosure and charging into an area where University of Georgia’s bulldog Uga was being photographed has renewed concerns for live animal mascots, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on its blog condemned the use of animal mascots, saying “It’s quite possible that Bevo was simply scared by the noise, lights, and chaos in the stadium and tried to flee from the confines of his makeshift pen. But that doesn’t change the fact that Uga or any of the humans standing nearby could easily have been trampled and killed.” The University of Tennessee’s coonhounds, called Smokey, have been docile and without injury since introduced in 1953, minus one incident in 2006 when Smokey IX nipped an Alabama receiver after the player fell on him while running out of bounds to catch a pass.

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UT Releases Study Addressing Barriers to Veterinary Care

The University of Tennessee — through its study group the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition — released a report that addresses problems experienced by low-income households and young pet owners when seeking care for their animals. The Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy report serves to identify these barriers, along with veterinarian attitudes and input, with the intent of identifying solutions to allow better access to veterinary services. Unsurprisingly, the greatest barrier to care is financial concerns, with 80 percent of low-income and younger pet owners unable to obtain preventative care due to financial constraints, 74 percent for sick care and 56 percent for emergency care. The study was paid for by Maddie’s Fund, a national foundation with the mission of creating a no-kill nation where every dog and cat is guaranteed a healthy home or habitat.

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Gorilla Warfare Erupts Between Cincinnati Zoo, Ape Advocates

The Cincinnati Zoo is again making headlines, with another ape-related controversy hanging over the institution, Nonprofit Quarterly reports. The dispute stems from a disagreement with the Gorilla Foundation (GF) regarding custody of an adult silverback gorilla named Ndume — former mate and lifelong friend of the preeminent primate Koko, who was famously taught sign language by Jane Goodall. When Koko died in June, the zoo soon after requested that Ndume be brought back to Cincinnati, however, the foundation maintains that because of his age, it is too dangerous to transport him. The zoo subsequently filed suit against GF asking the court to return the gorilla to his former home. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg has ordered the parties to pursue a joint resolution, though communication between the organizations remains tenuous. The Cincinnati Zoo first came under fire for the controversy surrounding the death of the gorilla Harambe. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have both sided with the zoo because it is able to provide Ndume the necessary socialization with other gorillas, whereas GF has no other gorillas.  

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Department of Ag. Announces Recipients of Its Agriculture Enterprise Fund

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture on Monday announced six new recipients of the organization’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund. The initiative is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Governor’s Rural Task Force, which aids new and expanding Tennessee agriculture, forestry, and food businesses, particularly in the state’s rural counties. Recipients must exhibit potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation, with a primary focus on distressed counties. “The Agriculture Enterprise Fund program has made an economic impact of more than $25 million for our state since we first began to award these grants one year ago,” said Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. “While we are proud of the successes so far, we are excited to see the continued opportunities and new jobs that will result from this program.”

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Elephant in Tennessee Sanctuary Inspires New Law

An elephant now residing in a Tennessee sanctuary has inspired New Jersey lawmakers to take action, banning the use of wild and exotic animals in carnivals and circuses, the New Jersey Herald reports. "Nosey's Law” was proposed after the eponymous elephant was found allegedly suffering from arthritis and abuse by her handlers. The bill will exempt organizations overseen by the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that he was "proud to sign ‘Nosey's Law' and ensure that New Jersey will not allow wild and exotic animals to be exploited and cruelly treated within our state."

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Animal Shelter Director Arrested on Cruelty Charges

A Cocke County animal shelter was raided by authorities this month resulting in animal cruelty charges for its director, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Terry Starnes, who oversaw the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport, was arrested by the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office after they found an emaciated and dehydrated coonhound that was half the ideal weight for the breed. The coonhound was taken in by another area shelter, Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue, which is caring for the dog. Investigators also noted that there were other dogs that appeared “underweight and in poor condition” and areas of the shelter appeared to be “in need of cleaning.” Friends Animal Shelter President Anne Fontaine reportedly said that Starnes arrest was unfair because he is working with sparse funding, little help and too many animals.

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