Undercover Activist Details Secret Filming of Animal Abuse & Why “Ag-Gag” Laws May Force Him to Stop


Democracy Now with Amy Goodman & Juan González, April 8, 2013

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images-14An animal rights investigator details how he has spent over a decade secretly filming animal abuse and why that work is now imperiled by a wave of laws sweeping the country. Speaking on the condition we conceal his identity, “Pete” has secretly captured animal abuse on farms and slaughterhouses after applying to work at the location. He has released video footage to law enforcement and activist groups such as Mercy for Animals, helping spark national outcry and charges against the abusers. His investigations and footage have led to at least 15 criminal cases and have been used in several documentaries. But now Pete’s work is under threat. A dozen or so state legislatures have introduced bills that target people who covertly expose farm animal abuse. Nicknamed “ag-gag” laws, they would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms or apply for a job at one without disclosing affiliations with animal rights groups. They also require activists to hand over undercover videos within 24 hours, preventing them from amassing a trove of material and publicizing their findings on their own. [includes rush transcript]



This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: In recent years, activists and investigators have gone undercover to reveal shocking cases of animal cruelty at some of the nation’s largest plants and farms. In many cases, they have made secret videos of the abuses, leading to prosecutions, closures, recalls and vows from the offenders to change their practices. In 2008, this undercover investigation by the Humane Society exposed wrongdoing by a California meat processor. A warning to our viewers, some of the images are very graphic.

HUMANE SOCIETY INVESTIGATION: An investigation by the Humane Society of the United States uncovers abuse of downed dairy cows, cows too sick or too injured to stand, at a California slaughterhouse. What’s more, the meat is being served to children through the National School Lunch Program.

AARON MATÉ: That undercover investigation by the Humane Society resulted in the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In the last two years, activists have also caught on camera employees of a Tyson Foods supplier in Wyoming flinging piglets into the air, workers at Bettencourt Dairies in Idaho shocking cows, and the searing of beaks off of young chicks at Sparboe Farms in Iowa. In the case of Tyson and Bettencourt, the employees were charged with cruelty to animals. In the case of Sparboe Farms, the company lost one of its biggest customers: the fast food giant McDonald’s.

CONTINUED — Read more and watch video at Democracy Now

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Daryl

    Shame these tappings can’t help to put these people away, it is big busines, and government not letting them use it….called money.

    April 9, 2013
  • Marcia

    I hope that some of the investigators will still take the chance and work undercover. If they are discovered and prosecuted, the trial and media coverage on the horrendous abuse of animals may backfire on the agricultural groups and their self-serving laws. One can hope . . .

    April 9, 2013
    • Daryl

      These new laws are a crock of crap….the people who do this need to be punished.

      April 9, 2013

    These are all coming from Red states where BIG AG and its components like Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Associations etc, that sound so warm and fuzzy and Old America, are really lobbyists that buy votes.. And they have lots of money and those state legislators love to take it to assure their next victory. Not one of them has a problem with inhumanity to animals as long as the Money keeps on coming. And Unfortunately the Public, the Citizens don’t have a clue what is going on with the state government..

    April 9, 2013
    • Mia

      California is not a red state. Money is money! Please don’t forget that.

      April 10, 2013
  • This is a sad day for America where we can see clearly how big buisness money is able to legislate their own morality.

    April 10, 2013
  • If I could be an investigator I would be willing to take that chance. I watched the Mercy for Animals video involving a Walmart supplier and I can’t stop crying to see what they did to those piglets and the pigs. Some one has to get the truth out. I do not think I have ever seen anything that cruel. What is wrong with those people. Are they serial killers in training? Just let me know what to do???

    April 10, 2013
  • Robynne Catheron

    This has rendered me speechless. I am so angry and frustrated that I could spit fire. How can we fight this? Just tell me, and I’ll do it.

    April 10, 2013
  • Nancy B

    The best way to stop all of this is to stop buying and consuming factory farmed meat products. Everytime we give these companies money we’re basically saying “Good job, keep it up”!

    Nothing, certainly no meat I’ve ever had, is good or tasty enough to make the torture of these souls worth it!

    April 10, 2013
    • Sue

      Exactly Nancy. I stopped eating beef years and years ago, when I advocated on behalf of reintroducing the Mexican wolf. Didn’t like the beef cattle industry breaking Endangered Species Legislation and getting away with it.

      Stopped eating pork as a natural progression.

      The only way “the public” can vote is with their money, pocketbook, and we can stop buying meat!

      AgGag tried to get passed in FL last legislative session, but Animal Rights advocates made too much noise for it to pass. “My” representative voted in favor of AgGag; I live in the country. Gee, he’s been a legislator for over 20 years; who pays HIS bills?!!

      April 12, 2013