Cases of Animal Cruelty in West Tennessee

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By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) has been investigating two major cases of animal cruelty in west Tennessee, and in late October/early November, starving horses were rescued from two locations.

In Haywood County, the owners of horses were charged with 39 counts of animal cruelty. There were 38 horses rescued by Redemption Road Rescue (RRR) in Jackson, Tennessee and at least one horse was found dead at the site.

Tennessee Department of Agriculture animal health personnel determined the Body Condition Score (BCS) of the horses before they were surrendered. In the Haywood County case, about four or five horses had a BCS above 3. The rest had a BCS of about 1 and 2. It was a “pitiful situation” one investigator said. Among the 38 horses, there were nine stallions and seven young colts under six months of age.

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, RRR received the call from TDA about the starving horses in Haywood County. RRR took in “38 Appaloosas, Arabians, crosses, and a few ponies from the property where all were being held in deplorable conditions. It is devastating to see the effects of horse ownership that result in such cruelty and neglect; and in cases like these, it’s rarely the first time horses have been removed from the owners,” Lori Collins of RRR wrote on their facebook page.

Then in mid-November, East Tennessee Miniature Horse and Donkey Rescue of Loudon, TN helped out Redemption Road Rescue. They took in two Appaloosas and two ponies from the “Haywood 38” and four of the Minis to help Redemption Road make room for the rest of the full size horses from the “Haywood 38.”

One of the Haywood County rescued horses, Silver Sunshine, was treated at Tennessee Equine Hospital in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. In trying to stay alive, it was assumed that the horses ate tree bark and anything else they could find. Evidently, a piece of bark became embedded in her stomach, created an abscess, and then burst. Sadly, the horse did not survive. Redemption Road Rescue wrote on facebook: “Our only solace in this is that we know her last days were full of healthy food, clean water, and lots of love…”

In Henderson County, Cindy Keen pleaded guilty on November 15, 2017 to 25 counts of animal cruelty, one year after the TDA animal welfare investigation started. All 25 horses, mostly Minis with approximately five full size horses, were rescued by Redemption Road Rescue.

A year ago, when the Henderson County case first happened, there were 25 horses on Cindy Keen’s property and six that she had given to her friend, which the friend then surrendered to RRR. So in total, RRR took in 31 horses from the Henderson County rescue. Again, east Tennessee Miniature Horse and Donkey Rescue helped, taking 12 from that case.

This was not the first time Cindy Massa Keen had been charged with animal cruelty. In 2001, Cindy and Richard Massa, of Clifton, TN were charged with neglect of over 280 animals – ranging from dogs to horses. The animals were left behind when the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department removed a 17-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl from their home on one acre of land.

On 12/1/01 all the small breed dogs were removed by the court order. Several animals were in critical condition and required emergency veterinary treatment, and one of the dogs subsequently died. The rescue team had to wade through ankle-deep excrement and mud and avoid tripping on barbed wire that had been strewn over the property. Five geese and five ducks; three horses; two miniature horses; several cats; many goats; exotic birds and several rabbits remained behind. They were living in dirty, filthy water, had no food or food that was so wet it stunk from mildew. Several ducks were found dead on the property. There were numerous rescue agencies involved in this case, including Cause For Paws, USNMC Rescue, Through Their Eyes, The National Animal Abuse Registry, and the Humane Society of Fayetteville, TN.

RRR is a 501(c)(3) organization located in Jackson, TN that was founded to help horses and horse owners in need. RRR accepts surrendered animals and works with local and state authorities on animal cruelty cases. It takes a lot of money to bring back a horse from starvation to health – in feed, hay, shavings, and veterinary care. Redemption Road Rescue operates on private donations and the small fees it collects from adoptees, and has the help of a lot of volunteers. On November 18, 2017 Rustic Soul Western Wear in Jackson, Tennessee held a fund raiser for Redemption Road Rescue: donating 20% of the day’s sales to the RRR. Find out more about Redemption Road Rescue at:
and follow the saga of the rescued horses on facebook at: Redemption Road

East Tennessee Miniature Horse and Donkey Rescue (ETMHD) is also a 501(c)(3) organization that accepts horses, donkeys, and mules from owner surrender and cruelty or hoarding cases. ETMHD strives to “make a big difference in the lives of small equines.” They also educate the public about the plight of unwanted horses and are a member of The Homes For Horses Coalition. ETMHD is also 100% donation funded. Find more information on their website:
  and facebook, East Tennessee Miniature Horse and Donkey Rescue. They are located in Loudon, Tennessee.

The good news in all this horror is that these animals are now getting good care at the rehabilitation facilities and will be available for adoption to good homes. “You Can’t Buy Love, But You Can Rescue It!” is ETMHD’s theme. Both organizations need donations to keep rescuing and helping equids live better lives.

Additional Resources:
WBBJ 7 News: “Henderson Co. Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty After Horses Recovered.”
Cindy and Richard Massa Animal Cruelty Case File.
Burgess, Katherine. “Henderson Co. Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty,” The Jackson Sun.

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