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On animal cruelty bill being a subterfuge

On animal cruelty bill being a subterfuge

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:00 pm

Don’t be fooled.
Model legislation about animal-cruelty reporting that is pending in the Tennessee General Assembly, and in California and Nebraska, is NOT intended to stop animal cruelty — far from it.
If the Tennessee proposal were to become law, it would be practically impossible for animal-welfare advocates to collect documentation of animal cruelty, such as the video captured by the Humane Society of the United States of trainers soring walking horses in West Tennessee. Individuals investigating abuses in the meat industry likewise would be hamstrung.
The law would require anyone collecting evidence of abuse to turn it over to law enforcement within 24-48 hours.
Yes, that sounds like the bill’s backers have a sense of urgency about the crimes taking place. But the sense of urgency actually is about getting caught.
Consider the source: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), notorious for drafting or least guiding bills in statehouses nationwide that are masked as reasonable proposals but in fact play on people’s fears — such as the Arizona immigration law of a few years ago. ALEC guides legislation designed to enrich conservative business interests.
Even for groups like ALEC, sometimes the mask slips. Spokesmen for ALEC have on one hand called animal advocates who capture abuses on video “terrorists.” It is hard to reconcile that with their stated objective to stop the abuse immediately.
In the latest set of bills, the insistence on a very short reporting time will make it nearly impossible for animal welfare advocates to build cases against companies or individuals in the framework of federal humane handling and food safety laws.
Simply, had this proposed law been on the books in 2010-11, when the Humane Society taped the soring incidents in Collierville, trainer Jackie McConnell almost certainly would have avoided prosecution.
The bill has been introduced because investigatory efforts like those of the Humane Society get results: They lead to arrests and big fines and lift the veil from the eyes of the American public.

Published in The WCP 3.26.13

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