The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is offering a $US5000 reward to encourage people to expose any alleged corrupt activity in the policing of the walking horse industry.
The society announced the reward program on Wednesday – the same day the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration began in Shelbyville under new US Department of Agriculture rules requiring minimum penalties for welfare infractions.
The HSUS says it will pay up to $US5000 for any tip leading to an arrest and conviction for bribery, intimidation, fraud or other corrupt activities related to the inspection of Tennessee walking horse shows.
It says the tip line is part of its ongoing commitment to end horse soring, which is the deliberate infliction of pain to Tennessee walking horses’ legs and hooves to force them to perform an artificially high-stepping gait for the show ring.
It said callers to its existing reward tip line for Horse Protection Act violations had also reported alleged wrongdoing by horse industry officials.
Callers also expressed fears of retaliation, inspiring the need for an additional reward program.
It said initiating the program at the start of the Celebration was particularly important due to the number of participants who have a history of violating the Horse Protection Act.
The society’s director of equine protection, Keith Dane, said: “Our rewards provide an incentive for industry participants to report instances of abuse and horse show corruption and ensure that the information is relayed to the proper authorities.”