Last week, the House of Representatives passed legislation (HR 5566) to make the selling of “crush videos,” which show kittens and puppies being crushed, burned, suffocated, or impaled, a federal crime. For those who have never heard of these types of videos, crush videos show women crushing small animals to death with their bare feet or wearing high heels that supposedly appeal to a sexual fetish.
The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the old law banning such videos was “overbroad” and violated free speech protections. The new measure, sponsored by Representatives Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) along with 263 cosponsors, passed 416 to 3, and is now headed to the Senate for expected approval. The statute will ban interstate and foreign commerce in obscene videos showing the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling of puppies, kittens, and other live animals. According to an article in the L.A. Times, the three lawmakers who voted against the measure were Representatives Paul Broun (R-GA), Tom Graves (R-GA), and Ron Paul (R-TX).
In 1999, Congress passed a law to curtail the growing market for crush videos, which at the time were selling for $300 a piece. Unfortunately, the market re-emerged recently when an appeals court decision overturned the conviction of Robert Stevens, the first person tried and convicted under the 1999 law. It was argued that the 1999 law was too broad and might affect other constitutionally protected speech, related to animals such as hunting videos. According to the bill’s sponsors, this new bill seeks to address the court’s concerns by having a law that is more narrowly drafted to meet constitutional standards. Exceptions are made for normal animal husbandry films or films depicting hunting, trapping, and fishing.
“Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue,” Representative Gallegly said in a statement. “Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence.”
“These videos have no redeeming value and clearly fall outside the realm of protected speech,” said Representative James P. Moran (D-VA) another bill sponsor. “Not only are they viciously inhumane to the animals involved, but they also teach behavior that can lead to other violent crimes against animals and humans.”
The Humane Society of the United States recently conducted extensive Internet research and undercovered email communication to ascertain the availability of small animal crush videos for sale on the Internet. The videos were easily available for purchase and horrifying in the cruelty inflicted on the victims. The password-protected part of one Web site had 118 videos for sale. The videos were of small animals, including rabbits, hamsters, mice, tortoises, quail, chicken, ducks, frogs, snakes, and even cats, being tortured and crushed. The animals were burned, drowned, and had nails hammered into them. “By enacting HR 5566, Congress can provide a top kill to a merciless subculture of animal crushing videos that have bubbled up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the subject in April,” said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “This legislation is narrowly tailored to address the court’s concerns, and the current legislation does not limit speech, but only conduct of the most abhorrent and vile kind.”
All 50 states have laws against animal cruelty, but states have found it difficult to prosecute crush videos because they usually don’t show faces, dates, or locations. The new legislation makes the interstate sale of such videos a crime subject to fines and imprisonment of up to five years. The measure must still be considered by the Senate. If you feel as strongly as I do about putting an end to these horrendous crush videos, please contact your senators to vote favor of HR 5566. For more information on contacting your state Senators, visit senate.gov.
Humane Choice now available at Whole Foods
The Humane Society of the United States launched Humane Choice—an all-natural, certified organic, adult dog food—to provide a nutritious, delicious, and cruelty-free diet for dogs. Now you can find Humane Choice at your nearby Whole Foods Market.
Animal CPR and First Aid now available at the Red Cross
The Santa Barbara Red Cross has an animal CPR and first aid class taught by a certified dog trainer. All pet owners should take advantage of this opportunity. For more details, call the Red Cross at 687-1331.
If you object to the animal cruelty that too often accompanies rodeos, please join in demonstrating against the Fiesta Rodeo. There will be signs available to hold, although you are welcome to bring your own. Meet at the corner of Las Positas and Via Real, at the following dates and times:
August 5, 6:45 p.m.
August 6, 6:30 p.m.
August 7, 6:30 p.m.
August 8, 12:30 p.m.
Beware of Rat Poison
Pet Chat reader Roberta alerted me to the fact that people are using rat poison on their properties as a means to control rodents. Not only do rats die slow, agonizing deaths with poison, but other animals and children are also endangered. People’s pets could ingest dying rats as well as other predators such as owls and hawks. If you have a rat infestation problem, please use other solutions to rid your home or yard of rats other than poison.
Adoptable Pet of the Week