Horse farm raided: Federal agents put Maryville horse farm under quarantine
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A horse barn owned by Blount County trainer Larry Wheelan was reportedly put under quarantine Thursday by U.S. Department of Agriculture agents.
The barn, which is located at 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, was raided shortly after 7 a.m. by federal agents, who were looking into alleged animal cruelty charges. They were assisted in their investigation by Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
The USDA had a warrant in hand allowing them to search the barn.
Agents were at the site almost nine hours, leaving at 4 p.m. An agent carried out a box with unknown contents and placed it in the back of a vehicle, which had a Blount County SPCA sign. No USDA representative would speak with local media.
There are reportedly 20 horses, most of which are believed to belong to Wheelan, in the barn. While a reporter was at the scene Thursday, several horses stuck their heads out of the windows of stalls, but the barn doors remained closed.
Wheelan is known as a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer.
According to WBIR-10 News, Wheelan denied any acts of animal cruelty. Wheelan didn’t return repeated calls from The Daily Times Thursday or Friday. A woman who answered the phone Friday morning told a reporter that he had been advised by legal counsel to not answer any questions. She didn’t identify herself.
Blount County Sheriff’s Office detectives and Blount SPCA officials referred all questions to the USDA, which has been in contact with Blount County District Attorney Mike Flynn’s office. Flynn advised that federal officials hadn’t spoken to him or his assistant attorney general Friday.