In Tribute to Dr. Earnest Johnson

AWI was deeply saddened to learn that Dr. Earnest Johnson, a dedicated veterinary inspector with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), passed away earlier this year. Dr. Johnson embraced his obligation to ensure enforcement of both the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, and his job took him to countless horse shows of Tennessee Walkers and other gaited breeds, where he sought to prevent illegal soring of the equines. Dr. Johnson was subjected to relentless and brutal attacks by detractors within the walking horse industry, but being of the soundest character, he stayed true to his responsibilities under the law.

Acting Administrator Kevin Shea of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) offered the following recognition of this remarkable man:

“I want to take a few minutes to honor the memory of Dr. Earnest Johnson, a greatly respected member of the Animal Care and APHIS family.  Earnest passed away on February 8, much too young at the age of 56. … Earnest worked for USDA for 24 years, first with the Food Safety and Inspection Service and then in Animal Care for APHIS.  … Earnest believed in the noble work of Animal Care: ensuring humane treatment of animals used in research and exhibition and those to be sold as pets, and working to eliminate the cruel and inhumane practice of horse soring. While he worked on all aspects of the Animal Care mission, he had a great affinity for horse protection. … He fulfilled his duty as a public servant to carry out the law fairly and professionally. … When he saw soring, he worked to stop it, just like the law has said we should do for over 40 years. …

“If they could, thousands of horses would thank Earnest for what he did. Millions of Americans who love horses would also do so. … We honor Earnest’s memory. May he rest in peace knowing that others are carrying on his work to protect horses.”

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