USDA investigating horse in pick-up truck on I-40 in Tennessee

Questions about safety for the animal, other drivers
Posted at 1:10 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 14:10:36-05

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Federal agents with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are investigating an incident involving a horse that was seen in the back of a pickup truck.

Photos taken by other motorists on I-40 eastbound near Waverly, Tennessee show a large horse in the back of a pick-up truck on the interstate. Witnesses say the vehicle was traveling at 70 mph.

Humprheys County deputies traced the truck -- registered out of Mississippi -- to a Chuck Wagon event, but never found the horse or driver.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture was alerted because of the potential dangers.

"If an accident were to occur, failing to secure an animal properly could result in injury to that animal and other travelers," said Dr. Samantha Beaty, the Tennessee State Veterinarian and Assistant Commissioner for Animal Health.

Local police could cite the driver for reckless driving or animal cruelty.

But, hauling a loose horse in a pick-up appears to violate federal guidelines and now the USDA is investigating.

"All animals entering Tennessee must comply with the code of federal regulation," said Dr. Beaty.

So, what was the driver thinking?

He reached out, and in a text exchange said:

"I love my horse and would never put her in danger."

"My horse loves to ride just like a big red dog."

He says she knows to stay put in the back. When asked what if he had to swerve or there was a wreck?

He answered, "I can turn on a dime. You can't throw her out."

Experts say with a horse that big that's simply not true, and it was extremely dangerous. The owner told me he made it safely and sold the horse in Tennessee before returning to Mississippi. But that's likely not the end of it as he may soon hear from agents with the USDA.