Time Limit on Animal Abuse Report Creates Controversy

Famed broadcaster and agvocate Trent Loos recently tagged me in a post on his Facebook page with a link to his broadcast about clergy, who oppose a bill passed by the Tennessee Statehouse to protect animals.  Trent’s Facebook message to was “enjoy.”

Anytime HSUS is mentioned, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to enjoy it.  But I was wrong!  This broadcast was recorded after Trent received a call from actress/activist Park Overall, who wanted to discuss the bill sitting on Governor Haslam‘s desk waiting to be signed into law.

Before I tell you why this interview was so entertaining, let me first provide some background information on the Tennessee bill.  This bill is so simple that we can print it – in its entirety – here:

“SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-14-202, is amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated subsection:
( ) Any person who records by photograph or video a violation of subsection (a) as committed against livestock shall, within twenty-four (24) hours of the photograph’s or recording’s creation:
(1) Report such violation to law enforcement authorities; and
(2) Submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement authorities.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013, the public welfare requiring it.”

Yes, that is the entire thing.

The key language in the legislation is the requirement to submit unedited photos or videos within 24 hours.  As Trent writes in a related editorial, “Now anybody who truly cares about ‘animal welfare’ would not sit on such information for even six hours much less six months if their goal was really to protect animals.”

To make his point that HSUS is more concerned with holding videos until they best serve the organization’s interests, Trent reminds us of a video that HSUS released on Feb 17, 2008.  This particular video, documenting the heinous treatment of some dairy cattle being unloaded at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, was captured about six months earlier but was held until it was most strategic for their fundraising efforts.

Trent Loos

Why would anyone with the best interest of animals at mind sit on video like this for six months?  Park Overall’s excuse (i.e. “explanation”) is that it takes time to build a case.  Parks’ southern drawl and rambling reasoning make her interview with Trent entertaining, but that’s not all.  She then goes off the topic of the Tennessee bill and mentions gestation crates.  Trent supports g-stalls, so he explains why – and I agree with him.

But the use of g-stalls is controversial even within ag circles.  Temple Grandin has even said they must be history as the gestation stall has become a symbol of cruelty to animals.  I understand where Temple is coming from saying the crates must go due to public perception alone.

I just find it ironic that so many folks are against g-stalls when I believe they’re one of the greatest advances in prevention of animal cruelty!  There have been studies that show if given a choice, the sow will spend about 85% of her time secure inside that crate, protected from the other sows.

G-stalls also protect farmers.  I grew up raising pigs outside, in groups, and have seen firsthand how sows can abuse and kill each other.  Plus, I had to be careful for my own safety because a 500-pound momma sow can be a killing machine!  As a kid, I remember literally running for my life to get onto a flat rack in the sow pasture.  What was considered normal at the time now scares the crap out of me!

The bottom line is this:  We need to promote understanding between producers and consumers alike.  I’m against cruelty to animals, but video that’s edited to be misleading doesn’t help animals.  Honestly, I’m not sure how people can get as “emotional” as Park did, arguing against the 24-hour deadline to submit animal cruelty videos.  Why wouldn’t they want to stop that abuse ASAP?  Perhaps that’s why HSUS uses actresses as spokespeople…

Thank you Trent Loos for tagging me and for allowing me enjoy your interview.  Thanks also for letting me vent on a topic that has been ticking me off for a long time!