Equine Rescue

TN Animal Abuse Bill Targets Photographers

Source: Evan Johnson of WBIR.com

Tennessee Swine Farming Legislator wants to stifle free speech!
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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 place.”

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 criminal activities.”

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19 replies »

  1. They have this bill disguised to try to fool the citizens of their state and ultimately Americans. I wish these people would put this much effort in assuring that their farms are run humanely and there there wouldn’t be an issue of videos.

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  2. I like to know where my food is coming from. It sure isn’t Old McDonalds Farm but just a factory farm where the chickens, pigs, diary cows are just crammed together in a concert building. These factory farmers treat these farm animals as things not living and breathing creatures. These farm animals just want to be outside to see the sun and breath fresh air. Let the truth be known and if you have nothing to hide, why do you need this bill than?

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  3. I must be experiencing a dunderhead moment. Is it me or is this article, written by Mr. Johnson, choppy and hard to follow?

    Sentences like “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.

    Grandpa can’t feed ‘IT”, an animal I presume, and then we have people coming around and showing part of ‘IT’. Is he trying to say law enforcement or investigative reporters are targeting small family farms owned by elderly folks who have fallen on hard times? Is that where he’s pointing his finger? I would like to think Grandpa has enough sense to either sell his animals or ask for help of some other kind. My Grandpa would have never let an animal go hungry. That’s where I got my personal credo…My animals eat before I do!

    This is not about small operations it’s about big time corporate farming. Dis-assembly Line Processing and workers required to meet quotas. The inhumane treatment of the animals from the time they leave the farm to the time the lights go out and what happens when you get caught.

    I do have to agree with one issue though and that’s the time involved. Law enforcement and Investigative reporters do require a lot of footage to make their case especially if it’s going to wind up with legal charges being filed and going before a judge. Our judicial process wouldn’t allow for a 5 minute video as the lawyer for the defendant simply says ‘it’s an isolated case and it will never happen again’ and that’s the end of it.

    BUT…how many animals suffer greatly while all this evidence is being collected?

    Now the HSUS response is clearly about ‘whistleblowers’. A term we’ve come to associate with employees of the business who report them for whatever reason. To me the article and the response don’t seem to be speaking to the same issue.

    No we don’t want Farm Bureau’s across the country to get Ag Gag bills passed as that just gives the big corporate processors free reign to treat animals poorly without fear of reprisal. That’s where Oklahoma is headed. They passed the horse slaughter bill under the guise of personal property rights. If I own a processing plant and I buy the animals are they not my personal property? Can’t I just treat them anyway I want?

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  4. I care if their is abuse. But asking people to turn that documentation over within 24-48 isn’t the way you do investigations. Sometimes abuse is all about teaching the person another way. Then that outcome has a happy ending for all. When grandpa gets old–that’s a toughie. I remember being partially involved with n 82 year old man who had his license revoked. He had crossed that line. I can’t even begin to describe how guilty I felt. I was on the sidelines and saw this nice man lose an important part of his independence. I know it was for the best but the guilt I felt…

    If this AG-GAG bill stems from that McConnell case I say tough. It takes time to compile evidence. If I brought all the evidence from one days worth of evidence collecting–would none take me seriously? We have AC all over this country who today won’t do anything to help starving horses. And this was before these laws.

    As a society have we really morally bankrupted ourselves to the point of–well gee this animal is being raised for slaughter so it doesn’t matter how I treat it? Or at the plant–no one will be the wiser. Well just wash all visible trashes off and turn a blind eye to the food chain.

    I am horrified at what we have become and what our lawmakers sign off as “good legislation”. I don’t know if these lawmakers are unaware of the laws they are signing, they don’t care or there being bought. I know it has to turn around.

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  5. I believe in handing evidence over to the law enforcement if the law enforcement is going to act on it before the animal has been killed or suffers any more then it already has. I do know of people who have been blamed for abuse of animals and it has been proven wrong but not before their name has been smeared and they have had their animals taken off them because of something that occurred that was not their fault. So let’s make sure of the facts before we rush it out to the 6 0’clock news.

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    • REALLY???????????? It takes months for horses to look like do when starved down…
      Knowing thses people are functioning with their lives and watching their horses deteriorate on their
      property is a true sickness……..

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  6. There is no investigation that can be credible and completed in 24 hours. We have to wonder – why these bills? It is proven that time after time, law enforcement will fail to respond to calls for attendance at the time suffering is happening – or if they appear, they are not qualified to determine the degree of suffering, the suffering is not in their jurisdiction, or they will look into it. The investigation is NOT simply the occurrence of the outrage, it is the climate of abuse that behind the public view is a way of life, including lazy and discompassionate law enforcement. I’ve seen it myself. I agree that it seems that some investigations take months and animals are suffering horribly during that time. The excruciating truth lies somewhere in there.

    So we can question the law enforcement – why are they not out there catching the same things the investigators are? Why are these occurrences caught time after time after time by private investigators working undercover, laughably with USDA officials, sheriff and sometimes, even the lowly animal control on the same premises? We can ask those question first and always. Law enforcement does not seem to care enough to conduct undercover investigations I suppose. The exposes we have witnessed are always published by private concerns.

    These bills are nothing more than an attempt to stove up the concern private citizens have regarding the unlawlful and brutal treatment of animals meant for food. Animals who unfortunate by birth have fallen into the hands of humans who no longer respect the sacrifice of an animal’s life for our own to flourish. But how do you gauge success against the sadism that occurs in these slaugherhouses. Legislative control has occurred; laws are in place. They would do well to leave it at that. We know what has been exposed and there is nothing to indicate the lessons were learned and in my book of zero tolerance they lost their one chance to conduct business without unannounced scrutiny.

    Yes, I am rambling. The realization that the evil in the heart of the brutal ones is seeking to control our good society in order to continue their brutal ways stuns me. What is choking me up is the thought that so many brutal ones are in office now, seeking only to enlarge their wallets, such as what has occurred in Oklahoma. I hope it stuns you.

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  7. If this is partly from the video of the abuse the so-called trainer was responsible for – whats wrong with these people. And if an older person can no longer take care of an animal – isn’t it better for someone to realize & take care of the issue? Apparently, not in TN! Cover it up! What
    ticks me off is the jerk who abused those Walking horses got 3 years PROBATION & a fine!!!!! Caught on tape & played on national TV. Probation??? Does this say something about TN and their method of dealing with animal abuse? There was a comment about the video from a horse rescue – a good one.

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  8. Signing this bill would be a grave mistake! The bill reeks of Comminism. That our own government would enact a law that would hide those who break our anti-cruelty laws IS UNCONSCIONABLE. “We The People have a right to know what happens in the production of our food. Have you seen the 1973 movie, “Soylent Green”?
    I will be obtaining a list of every lawmaker who votes in favor of this law, and will publish this list on every form of media that is available to me. Then we will know who to VOTE OUT OF OFFICE come election day. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT STAND FOR SUCH SUBTRIFUGE AND DECEPTION FROM OUR OWN GOVERNMENT

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  9. I agree that this is a very grave mistake. Most rescues and hooved human societies have gone through a great deal of training. In most states there are procedures that must be followed. Most AG depts do not want to take peoples horses away. This guy has no idea about how this works. If one does see a problem, they don’t keep the pictures privately. Like I said, there are usually procedures for reporting abuse. It appears this Sheriff is involved over his head with abuse. If you believe that.. I guess this legislator is taking that away from the people that do this very crutial work. How is his treatment for his swine? Doesn’t this seem to be a conflict of interest since he makes part of his living from the killing of his pigs? Are all these people going mad? Do they themselves suffer from Mad Cow Disease?

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  10. Sounds like they’re ramping up for horse slaughter so that if they ever open one (like not, but if) then they’ll have all their dirty pretty things in place.

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  11. If they didn’t have something to hide, they wouldn’t be trying to introduce books such as these. It is apparent to me that there is allot being done that is not above board, maybe illegal and they don’t want to be held accountable. Ban these bills. They’ve gone too far.

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    • This isn’t about farmer John or neglected or starched animals. That is a whitewash.. This is about factory farming, slaughter house horrors, gestation crates, and mask treatment if downed cows, kicking around of chickens or Turkeys before they are killed. This is about lousy kill auctions, kill buyers, slaughter abusers.. Thus is shout adulterated meat, sanitation, health violations. This is about all the illegal, immoral things that our food industry does that gets publicized. They got something to hide, which is why these bills are popping up all over. They are NOT operating above board.. This reeks of illegality!

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      • It does reek of illegality. As a matter of fact, to force disclosure of photographs or videos of abuse within 24 hours will discredit any evidence which does not make it to them within that time period. It has nothing to do with helping the animal, as we have proof of animals lying abandoned, dying or grievously injured in feed lots with law enforcement laughing it up within earshot of the dying animal.
        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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  12. Wayne Pacelle and the HSUS are using the Whistleblowing Excuse to their advantage. Whistleblowing is a very important Tool and Act to expose People or Organizations who are violating the Law of the Land. Whether it be abusing animals,comitting fraud,stealing or any other illegal actions. In the 2008,undercover investigation that HSUS did on a Federal Slaughter Plant in California,HSUS said they filmed for several months before they brought it to the attention to Local Law Officials and USDA. Meanwhile probably hundrteds of cows were being abused and mistreated during this filming. I was a Former USDA Veterinarian in charge of one of the largest cow slaughter plants in the country,located in Pennsylvania. You do not have to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a problem exist after 3-4 months of filming. After a coupe of days of observing what was going on,you can make a valid conclusion that this is an on going problem. Instead HSUS, kept filming, while everday these cows were being abused.I was on a Panel that was organized by The New York City Bar Association when a Representative of HSUS was telling us about their undercover investigation and how long it took before they contacted the Authorities. All of us on the Panel, were in disbelief when we heard it was several months long. In a recent reporting,HSUS,is involved in a Law Suit with Ringling Brothers Circus. ASPCA and the Animal Welfare Institute were also involved with this Law Suit. Just recently it was reported that ASPCA settled their Law Suit for several Million Dollars and The Animal Welfare Institute and HSUS are still in Litigation. The basis of the Law Suit was these 3 Animal Rights Organizations payed an employee of Ringling Brothers Circus,who was an Elephant trainer, to make statements about the abuse and mistreatment of elephants. Again it looks like HSUS,used its familiar line, The trainer was a Whistleblower. Dr. Lester Castro Friedlander,BA,DVM. I was a Former New York State Horse Racing and Wagering Board Veterinarian and a Former USDA FSIS Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer and USDA Veterinary Trainer of the Year.

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    • I’m going to be very careful with my reply. I appreciate your time Dr Friedlander. I agree with your point wholeheartedly. I do recognize, as we all do, that some work by these organizations have been pivotal to correcting abuse. However, there is truth that the largest animal welfare organizations are using the plight of the animals to make money over and way above what it needs in its “humble” mission and have taken advantage of our good society’s trust.

      But this legislative attempt to corral “some” questionable strategies does NOTHING to protect the animals – the abuse will occur without accountability. Perhaps agreements can be engineered with these organizations when they do uncover negligence. Insofar as the object of this debate is the care and respect of a living breathing being – I cannot see any other way to protect them but to build a battery of charges and hit the industry with enough violations and publish them so the public feels the affront as keenly as the animal did. That is the bottom line – how to reveal a culture of abuse without allowing abuse. Even with submission of evidence though, abuse continues at those facilities – as is shown by USDA records of violations over and over again by the same offenders.

      I don’t believe in seeing without reacting such as your experiences – there are some who do. One of our animal investigative teams reports offenses as they occur and follows up to ensure prosecution. Yet each trip reveals things are just as ugly as the time before, with the exception of the Sugarcreek “campaign”.

      I think these bills are unconstitutional and controlling. Whistleblower Act is a means of protecting you from retaliation. I’m not sure how that works in these cases, but I may not understand the full meaning of the Act.

      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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