|Pepsi Removes Sponsorship of Tennessee Walking Horse Championship after Animal Cruelty Reports|
Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:40
Pepsi has cancelled its sponsorship of the annual Tennessee Walking Horse championship, the Celebration after reports that there was extreme animal cruelty at the event.
The discontinuation of the relationship was "effective immediately," according to Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco. The company said its logo was removed Wednesday from the Celebration website, prior to the broadcast of the ABC News report on "Nightline."
The report featured undercover video made by the Humane Society of the United States that showed one of the top trainers in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, Jackie McConnell, beating and torturing horses in his stables outside Memphis.
An ABC News investigation found that large numbers of the famed horses have been tortured and beaten in order to make them produce the high-stepping gait that wins championships.
"All too often, you have to cheat to win in this sport," said Keith Dane of the Humane Society.
The undercover video led to a federal grand jury indictment of McConnell. The tape shows McConnell and his stable hands beating horses with wooden sticks and using electric cattle prods on them as part of a training protocol to make them lift their feet in the pronounced gait judges like to see.
In another scene, McConnell oversees his hands as they apply caustic chemicals to the ankles of the horses and them wrap them with plastic wrap so the chemicals eat into the skin.
"That creates intense pain and then the ankles are wrapped with large metal chains so the horses flinch, or raise their feet even higher," said Dane of the Humane Society.
McConnell is expected to enter a guilty to plea to one count, according to his lawyers.