Shaw Hollow Farms & David Merrell, Tellico Plains, TN 4/12/13

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:30
Investigation Category: 

Investigators visited Shaw Hollow Farms, to attend the horse sale advertised by kill buyer David Merrell. Merrell started shipping horses to the Presidio export pens after kill buyer Dorian Ayache stopped hauling horses. Since then, Merrell has shipped approx. 3 loads of horses/month to Mexico for slaughter. Ironically, Merrell used Ayache’s former driver, Frank Mance Reed, for some of these transports. Reed became known after the January 2012 accident with Ayache’s truck.  (The Tennessee Department of Safety announced he was cited for unsafe operation of a vehicle and driving fatigued)

Animals’ Angels also documented that Merrell has obtained Ayache’s former truck and trailer and recently used it to ship the horses to Presidio and to pick up horses at slaughter auctions. AA has reported these observations to the TN DOT. The investigation is currently ongoing.

When investigators arrived at Shaw Hollow Farm, there were approx. 10 horses in a muddy field in front of a barn, but no sign of an ongoing horse sale. Almost all of the horses were very thin, one was a BCS1 with spine and hip bones prominently showing. The animals had access to food and water, but the hay was of extremely poor quality. A pinto Tennessee walker stallion was kept inside the barn, as well as a small dark bay pony.

 Investigators approached a worker and were informed that the horse sale was discontinued.  Concerned about the condition of the horses, the investigators called animal control to report the situation. They were informed that the entire county has only one part time animal control officer, who is also a full time nurse.  When they were finally able to reach her, she stated that they “knew about these horses” and that the owner “never kept them very long”. She promised to check on the animals during her next weekend shift, write a police report and report her findings back to the investigators.  Unfortunately, Animals’ Angels has not heard back from her ever since. At this point, it cannot be verified if these horses are really connected to David Merrell or if they are owned by the person operating Shaw Hollow Farms. Animals’ Angels has requested a copy of the police report to find out additional information and what happened to these horses.