This morning, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam vetoed his state’s dangerous anti-whistleblower/“ag-gag” bill, Senate Bill 1248/House Bill 1191. This is a major victory for animal welfare and consumer safety—if signed into law, this legislation would have thwarted investigations of agricultural enterprises and protected animal abusers instead of working to prevent such mistreatment.
Governor Haslam’s veto comes just days after Tennessee’s Attorney General declared the legislation “constitutionally suspect under the First Amendment on three grounds” and noted that it could violate a person’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Animal abusers in Tennessee have good reason to want to keep their cruel and illegal actions out of sight. While most states exempt farm animals from their animal cruelty statues entirely, last year Tennessee passed a bill, spearheaded by the ASPCA, to make extreme acts of cruelty to livestock subject to felony-level penalties.
Investigations on farms have been extremely successful in documenting the inhumane treatment of animals, uncovering crucial health and welfare information and spurring many groundbreaking reforms. If Tennessee’s ag-gag bill had become law, the cruelty revealed by these types of investigations—such as the gruesome beating and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses disclosed last year—would remain hidden from the public.
We thank Governor Haslam for listening to the citizens of Tennessee and preventing this harmful and unnecessary bill from becoming law. We also applaud and thank our Tennessee Advocates, local humane organizations, and groups representing other interests (including civil liberties, journalism, religion, food safety and the environment) put at risk by this bill for their support in fighting it!
Where does your state stand on anti-whistleblower legislation? Find out here, and be sure to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade so you can take action on current animal-related bills in your state!
Animal advocates, this is major: The ASPCA is working closely with Connecticut legislators, The Humane Society of the U.S., CT Votes for Animals and the CT Coalition Against Puppy Mills to enact a bill pending that—if amended in the Connecticut House of Representatives, as hoped—would prohibit pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs and cats! Instead, starting in 2016, Connecticut pet stores will be allowed to sell and/or adopt out only dogs and cats who came from animal shelters and non-profit rescue organizations.
If the hoped-for bipartisan amendment to H.B. 5027 succeeds, Connecticut will become the first state in the nation to enact this kind of law.
Passage of this measure would deliver a devastating blow to puppy mills, all while helping to reduce pet overpopulation in shelters. Talk about a win-win!
It’s Be Kind to Animals Week, and we’re asking everyone to donate 10 minutes to help animals in need. In fact, you can do these four simple actions right from your seat!
Join the Advocacy Brigade Sign up for the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to receive important alerts when we need your help lobbying for laws against animal cruelty.
Help Fight Puppy Mills Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Take the pledge that you'll never shop in a store that sells puppies—even if you're just buying food or toys. This simple action will help put puppy mills out of business for good!
Show Your Virtual Support Dedicate your Facebook status, Tweet or blog post to a homeless animal. And if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter to keep track of breaking animal welfare news!
Call Your Local Shelter Grab your cell phone and call your local animal shelter. From walking dogs to organizing fundraising events, shelters across the country could really use the help—even if you can’t make a long-term commitment.
Got more ideas? Tweet them using the hashtag #Kind2Animals!
Hey, New Yorkers: Let’s hear it for our state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman! Today he announced the Animal Protection Initiative, a new program that will use civil and criminal remedies to target allegations of animal cruelty and unscrupulous sales of pets and other animals in New York.
The initiative aims to protect both animals and people in the state by shutting down animal fighting rings, ensuring compliance with New York's Pet Lemon Law, charging those who abuse or neglect animals, and cracking down on puppy mills.
Our attorney general has long been a friend of the animals. In fact, today he announced that his office has reached a settlement with the owner of a Yonkers pet store that was keeping animals in unsafe and inhuman conditions, requiring him to take several actions to greatly improve animal care at his store. This outcome is just the latest in a string recent animal welfare victories the attorney general has won.
“We are thankful to Attorney General Schneiderman for his persistent leadership in combating some of the worst forms of animal cruelty and protecting both the animals and people of New York State,” says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Counsel of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement and Legal Advocacy departments. “The new Animal Protection Initiative sends a clear message that perpetrators who engage in animal cruelty will be held accountable for their actions.”
Thank you for standing up for animals, Attorney General Schneiderman!
This morning a post written by independent journalist Will Potter made the front page of the social news website Reddit. It’s now blowing up on Twitter. Reaching thousands of people, Potter’s post detailed the first ag-gag prosecution in the United States.
A 25-year-old Utah woman who says she was standing on a public street outside a slaughterhouse used her cell phone to film an injured cow being carted away by a tractor lift. Amy Meyer now faces a class B misdemeanor for agricultural operation interference.
Ag-gag laws, like the one that passed last year in Utah, are specifically designed to silence investigators who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms. But they can reach much further than that, potentially penalizing other witnesses and whistle-blowing workers. They can also hide other abuses, including food safety and labor violations. They criminalize acts including the recording, possession or distribution of photos, video and/or audio on a farm.
“This case illustrates the underlying intent of these laws: to keep citizens in the dark about what happens to animals on factory farms and where their food comes from,” says Suzanne McMillan, Director of the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare Campaign.