How it All Started

In early 2003, a news segment aired reporting a case of animal cruelty in Sumner County, TN. Local law enforcement seized more than a dozen malnourished horses. More horses lay deceased in the barns and pastures. This case sparked the beginning of Volunteer Equine Advocates (VEA).

Horrified Sumner County horse owners banded together and offered to help the local sheriff’s office with this case and any future similar situations. This group filed the necessary documents with the state and federal governments to become an IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

The mission was to assist law enforcement in all aspects of animal cruelty cases involving equine. This includes photographing and identification on site; noting the physical conditions of seized equine; providing immediate veterinary care; following veterinary recommended refeeding instructions; recording progress; presenting evidence in court as an advocate for the neglected or abused equine.

If the defendant is found guilty, the statute requires the animals be surrendered. When placed permanently in VEA care, they will be made available for adoption.

VEA began assisting in Sumner County, but pretty quickly, surrounding counties were asking for the same help. To date, VEA has assisted law enforcement and animal control agencies in 27 Middle Tennessee counties, with over 1500 equine receiving assistance.