Seeing pictures and video of animal abuse stirs some strong reactions, and
now there's an effort to ensure those images get in the hands of investigators
a lot faster.
State Representative Andy Holt (R - Dresden) says too often authorities
don't see those images in time to help animals in need.
James Pope, President of the Loudon County Farm Bureau, agrees. Pope said,
"It's a real problem to think that somebody can come and take a picture of
a downed animal and that evening see it on TV."
Pope said he doesn't want animal abuse covered up, but added sometimes there
much more behind the images shown to the public before the problem is brought
to the owner's attention.
"Grandpa gets old and don't have the funds to properly feed it and take
care of his other bills and that's when we seem to have problems with people
coming around and showing that part of it," Pope said.
State Representative Holt said, "We want to keep radical animal
activist groups like PETA and HSUS from collecting video over what we've seen
as being months of investigation while their reported abuse is taking
Holt, who's also a swine farmer, is sponsoring House Bill 1191. If passed,
the bill would require anyone who takes a picture of video of livestock
believed to be abused to give the images to law enforcement within one business
day. Also, the submitted evidence must be unedited.
Pope said, "I think this bill will give the opportunity to work through
the proper channels."
The Humane Society of the United States issued the following statement:
"Whistleblowing employees have played a vital role in exposing animal
abuse, public health issues, and environmental problems on industrial factory
farms. Rather than trying to prevent animal cruelty and food safety problems
from occurring, these bills demonstrate that the animal agriculture industry's
real intent is simply to prevent Americans from finding out about those abuses
in the first place.
The industry's representatives' claim is plainly false and evidenced by its
inability to cite even one case where this has happened.
Here are the facts about our investigations: In 2009, HSUS's whistle-blowing
investigation of callous animal cruelty at a Vermont slaughter plant led to its
closure and a felony criminal conviction. A 2008 HSUS investigation of a dairy
cow slaughter plant in California prompted the largest meat recall in U.S.
history and criminal convictions, as well. In 2012, the whistleblowing HSUS investigation
of Wyoming Premium Farms documented rampant animal abuse, leading to nine
workers being charged with criminal animal cruelty. In 2012, the HSUS
undercover video of shocking horse abuse at Tennessee Training Stables led to
top trainer Jackie McConnell pleading guilty to felony conspiracy to violate
the Federal Horse Protection Act. These investigations are critical to
protecting our food supply and factory farmed animals from unethical and