Americans overwhelmingly believe that food from our farms should be safe to eat and that farm animals should not be abused for its production. So it is disturbing that legislators in a number of states throughout the country are considering—and passing—legislation known as “Ag-Gag” bills that would cripple the ability of investigators to expose animal abuse and food safety concerns. Many Ag-Gag bills criminalize taking photos or videos on farms to expose problems such as animal cruelty, environmental and labor violations, and other illegal or unethical behavior. Simply put, Ag-Gag legislation poses a danger to the American public as well as to animals.
Four years ago, undercover video led to the largest beef recall in U.S. history. The video, taken at Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in Chino, California, revealed workers at the slaughter plant kicking sick cows, ramming cows with the blades of a forklift, and torturing crippled cows to force them to walk to slaughter. In that case, the slaughterhouse that was shut down was also the second largest beef supplier to the National School Lunch Program, so these irresponsible and inhumane acts endangered the health of scores of American schoolchildren.
Legislators bent on suppressing exposés through the passage of Ag-Gag legislation are not only harming animals, but putting all of us—including our children—in jeopardy by preventing our access to critical information about our food supply. They also threaten our constitutional rights by stifling dissemination of information and chipping away at our First Amendment protections.
It’s ironic when you think about it. The individuals targeted by Ag-Gag laws are not the criminals who are beating or stabbing animals (as seen on some undercover videos). Instead, the bills would punish the whistleblowers, the people who dare to lift the veil on these oft-hidden cruelties. The language in the bills varies somewhat state to state, but in many cases the penalties for exposing cruelty may be harsher than those for the actual commission of cruelty. In a number of states the proposed legislation would prevent documenting not only the abuse of farm animals, but also could prohibit investigations of puppy mills and dog racing.
Lawmakers who support Ag-Gag bills do so because they are accommodating the agribusiness lobby, not because it is in the interest of their constituents. In fact, a recent national poll by Lake Research Partners found that 71% of Americans support undercover investigative efforts to expose farm animal abuse on industrial farms.
According to the Lake Research poll, opposition to Ag-Gag legislation is steadfast across demographic, geographic and partisan lines. A majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree that banning undercover investigations is wrong. Likewise, a majority of respondents in all regions (Northeast, Midwest, South and West) oppose the criminalization of undercover investigations at farms. No matter the demographics, Americans don’t want to be deemed criminals for exposing wrongdoing.
Twenty-seven national organizations and experts—from animal welfare groups to civil liberties, public health and workers’ rights associations—have united to oppose Ag-Gag bills. These groups, including the ASPCA, have signed a letter stating, in part:
. . . These bills represent a wholesale assault on many fundamental values shared by all people across the United States. Not only would these bills perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms, they would also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply. We call on state legislators around the nation to drop or vote against these dangerous and un-American efforts.
Ag-Gag laws are an affront to many values Americans hold dear. If you live in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee or New York, you should be especially concerned since Ag-Gag laws are now pending in your state legislatures. Please contact your legislatorsto let them know that Ag-Gag laws are dangerous for people and animals.
Yesterday marked the start of the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week. As pet parents take stock of potential pet poisons in their homes, the ASPCA wants to remind folks to take care when planning (or planting) their springtime gardens, too.
Last year, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center fielded tens of thousands of calls related to pets who accidentally ingested or came in contact with garden-related products, including insecticides, weed killers and toxic plants. Don’t let your furry beloved become a victim of your green thumb.
On Friday, March 16, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents arrested a Queens man in the deadly beating of a cat. Richard Ferrugio, 49, is suspected of using a tire iron to bludgeon a black-and-white cat to death on the sidewalk in front of several witnesses—including children—then driving away from the scene.
The ASPCA investigated a call about the beating on March 8 and, after a thorough investigation, identified Ferrugio as the suspect. Ferrugio has been charged with one count of felony animal cruelty and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, Ferrugio could face up to two years in prison on the animal cruelty count.
This alleged animal abuser is now facing the consequences thanks to a citizen who took action. If you suspect an animal may be the victim of neglect or abuse, don’t wait—report it!
Make room in your heart for animals by making room in your home. Start your spring cleaning early by donating goods that you no longer need or want to the ASPCA’s WebThriftStore.
The ASPCA is one of the signature charities participating in WebThriftStore, an online marketplace where users can buy and sell books, clothing, furniture and electronics to benefit the ASPCA. When a user selects the ASPCA as their charity of choice, 80 percent of the sale price of each donated item goes to the ASPCA. Donors may receive tax deductions, and buyers can shop for bargains while contributing to a worthy cause.
The reality is startling. Young puppies bred for fighting are often forced into lives of abuse and neglect. Tethered to short, heavy chains, they often receive inadequate care, little socialization and can go for days without food or clean water. And when they are old enough to fight, many die of blood loss, shock and exhaustion. Others are simply killed. From the very beginning, these dogs are fighting for their lives.
With your support, our team works hard to put an end to dog fighting. Our elite Blood Sports Unit provides critical training to animal control officers, police officers and veterinarians across the country. They also lead criminal investigations, providing expertise in carrying out large-scale rescues and raids. With your help, the ASPCA can remain a leader in the battle against dog fighting—working to rescue animal victims and prosecute offenders.