Skip to main content

Did you know that in some states, it's illegal to make undercover video of animal cruelty on farms?  As surreal as it is, it's true.  But one animal-rights activist is vowing to press on.

The activist, who has requested ABC News refer to him as "Pete," worked as an employee at Bettencourt Dairies in Idaho for three weeks last year on behalf of the animal rights group Mercy for Animals. As detailed in an ABC News report last week, Pete recorded employees beating, kicking and dragging dairy cows around the farm – animal abuse violations that resulted in criminal charges against three workers.

But investigations like the one at Bettencourt Dairies may not be possible in other states across the country should farm management and agriculture lobbyists get their way. Nine different state legislatures are considering so-called "ag-gag" bills that would place restrictions on the filming or use of undercover video on farms. Five states have already passed similar laws.

Just in case you don't think these laws have an impact, animal-rights activists have been forced to stop active investigations in Iowa and Utah, where "ag-gag" laws took effect at the start of this year.

One of the states where a law is pending is Indiana.  That bill's sponsor, state senator Travis Holdman, told ABC News that "vigilante groups" are butting in on the job of law enforcement.  Um, Travis?  Many of these cases of abuse wouldn't even get the attention of law enforcement if not for these videos.

"Pete," who claims to be responsible for 15 criminal cases in 11 years, was out in the field last week at Bettencourt Farms, a dairy farm in Idaho.  He didn't take long to find shady goings-on.

In the Bettencourt case, Pete said the first day on the job he saw another employee dragging a cow on its side inside a milking barn, in full view of a manager who was present. The incident was recorded with a hidden camera and was one of several acts of animal cruelty that he documented during his employment. He said when he felt he had enough proof of animal cruelty, Mercy for Animals turned the footage over to local law enforcement. Criminal charges were brought against three employees; one of those pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty.
The farm's husband-and-wife owners say they fired the employees involved in the abuse as soon as they found out about it, and don't understand why "Pete" didn't tell them first.  Sadly, not all farmers are as proactive--a main reason why we need these undercover videos.
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site