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Animal abuse bill targets photographers

5:57 PM, Mar 29, 2013   |    comments
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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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