Animal Abuse Legislation
Say No to the “Ag-Gag” Bill
Friday, April 19, 2013
Social Compassion in Legislation (CIL) would like your help in voicing opposition for AB 343, authored by Assemblymember Jim Patterson, a Republican from Fresno. The bill is sponsored by the California Cattlemen’s Association.
AB 343 is a so-called “Ag-Gag” bill, which is simply meant to intimidate whistle-blowers of animal cruelty and meant to lessen or stop the process of exposing animal cruelty completely. The bill requires anyone who videotapes, photographs, or records incidents of animal cruelty to turn over the evidence to authorities within 48 hours — or be charged with an infraction of the law. Even though this sounds like a tough new measure to crack down on abuse, it’s not. AB 343 would effectively hamper animal welfare undercover investigators and employee whistle-blowers who are collecting information on systemic animal cruelty at meatpacking plants, slaughterhouses, livestock ranches, and farms.
Lisa Acho Remorenko
Assemblymember Patterson defends the bill saying that if someone stumbles across an incident of abuse, he should report it immediately and not attempt to collect more evidence. “Do you really have to have 10 animals abused? Isn’t one enough?” Patterson asks. But according to the director of undercover investigations for the Humane Society of the United States, one animal is not enough, and two days is usually insufficient. It can take several weeks to document a pattern of abuse. A single incident, reported to a district attorney or police, is rarely enough for a strong case for prosecution and can easily be dismissed by the facility owner as a onetime occurrence. That’s why animal welfare groups don’t believe that the cattlemen’s aim is to protect animals. If that’s the intention, they say, the cattlemen should embrace thorough investigations of animal abuse, not suggest preempting them.
According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, “Say you are a worker in a meatpacking plant — not an animal rights activist who has surreptitiously found employment there. And say you witness and video a case of animal abuse. Under AB 343, that worker would have to turn over the video to authorities in 48 hours, with no guarantee that his or her identity would be protected, or that authorities would act on the information. Such a worker would rightly fear retaliation from an employer, and most likely would keep the video secret. If that worker shared the video with a journalist, the journalist would need time to verify its authenticity and do further reporting. That would take longer than 48 hours, or even 72 hours — a duration the CCA says it would accept in an amendment. If the journalist ultimately used the video, he or she would be exposing the source to possible fines and retaliation from an employer.”
Social Compassion in Legislation states that exposing animal cruelty, and standing up for voiceless animals who are abused on factory farms and in food production, is a right, not a privilege … and when sick animals enter the food supply, it is a public safety issue as well. This bill and others like it attempt to turn the good guy into the bad guy.
Here’s What You Can Do:
Send your opposition letter to:
Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman
Chair of the Agriculture Committee
Fax (916) 319-2184
Phone (916) 319-2084
The most important point to make is that you OPPOSE AB 343, authored by Assemblymember Jim Patterson.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Phoebe is a very sweet and lovable purebred English Labrador retriever. Her loving personality will melt anyone’s heart in an instant. We think she is about 8 to 9 years old, and she has the appropriate amount of gray on her sweet face, yet has the blackest, softest, shiniest coat. In her early years, she was probably one of “those Labs” who had boundless, wild energy. But now, Phoebe is at that perfect, mellow, senior Lab age. The age all Lab owners wait for! Phoebe is up to date on her shots, and she is spayed and microchipped. She is a little chunky monkey and weighs 75 pounds.
Phoebe is in a foster home, and this what her foster family has learned about her. Phoebe is gentle and loves giving kisses. She knows how to sit, stay, lies down, comes when called, she has very respectful, polite manners, and she is house trained. She will fit perfectly into a family with other dogs her age and/or energy level. She’s curious and friendly with other dogs but is not into rough playing or chasing. She’s also good with cats. Her foster mom thinks she will be good with children of most ages. She is happy and content being in the same room where you are or just being part of a loving household. Phoebe loves people, and she is looking for a forever home where she will not be left alone.
Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions