KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The problem of horse neglect and abuse seems to be running rampant in East Tennessee despite the efforts of animal rescue organizations.
Right now, there are 22 animals at Horse Haven with cases still in the court system. The director says they do their best to help law enforcement with investigations, but they take time and not every case ends in an arrest.
"I've got a database that's full of calls for the last 15 years," said Nina Margetson.
Requests from the public go to local law enforcement, which then calls in an expert, like an agricultural extension agent, to determine if there is probable cause to pursue an investigation.
"They look at water, feed, shelter and care and make a determination of what they see at that time," said Dr. Robert Burns, assistant dean of UT Extension.
"It upsets people that it takes so long, but to make sure we have a good case, I hate it, but sometimes the animals suffer in the meantime. But we can only do so much in this state under our current laws," said Margetson.
She is working with legislators hoping to improve some of those laws.
"We want the animals to get help quickly and not have to go through such a long, drawn out process when by then the owner knows about it and can hide the horses," Margetson said.
She says when someone calls in with an anonymous tip or information on past abuse, an investigation has to start from scratch. It's best when people call with first-hand knowledge when something is happening and are willing to testify about what they know.
Horse Haven runs solely on donations. You can contact them at 865-609-4030.