Petition Closed

The 'Ag Gag' bill makes it a crime to videotape animal cruelty or abuse and then fail to turn in the evidence to authorities within 48 hours. The result? It will stop animal rights activists from accumulating enough documentation to prove that animal cruelty is routine at some factory farms and slaughterhouses. Under this bill, farmers can claim the abuse is a one-time occurrence and go on their merry way.

A recent example: In 2011, an Humane Society investigation into Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell's stable in Collierville, Tenn., revealed shocking cruelty to horses. The whistleblower recorded horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face and intentionally burned with caustic chemicals. As a direct result of that investigation, a federal grand jury handed down a 52-count criminal indictment and a state grand jury indicted McConnell and two others for 38 counts of criminal animal cruelty. Had this law been in place, the whistleblower would not have been able to amass enough evidence to show a pattern of abuse over time, and the perpetrators never would have been punished. 

If Gov. Haslam signs this bill into law, it will stop prosecutions of animal cruelty by criminalizing whistleblowing on factory farms. We need your help, though, to keep this bill from becoming law. Our window to stop this bill from being signed into law is narrow - Gov. Haslam only has 10 days from receipt of the bill to veto it. Will you sign it today and share with others?

 

Letter to
Gov. Bill Haslam
We are writing to express our concern about the 'ag-gag' bill, SB1248, awaiting your signature into law. We urge you to veto this bill.

Historically, industrial-scale agricultural operations have been rife with animal abuse and food safety violations. Oftentimes these injustices have come to light through undercover videos, photographs, or audio.

In 2011, a Humane Society investigation into Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell's stable in Collierville, Tenn., revealed shocking cruelty to horses. The whistleblower recorded horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face and intentionally burned with caustic chemicals. As a direct result of that investigation, a federal grand jury handed down a 52-count criminal indictment and a state grand jury indicted McConnell and two others for 38 counts of criminal animal cruelty. Had this law been in place, the whistleblower would not have been able to amass enough evidence to show a pattern of abuse over time, and the perpetrators never would have been punished.

These crimes would have never come to light but for the work of The HSUS' undercover investigation, which exposed a culture of lawlessness and cruelty that has thrived within the Tennessee walking horse show industry. In 2010, the USDA's Office of Inspector General released a damning report, concluding that "The practice of soring has been ingrained as an acceptable practice in the industry for decades" and that the "APHIS' [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] program for inspecting horses for soring is not adequate to ensure that these animals are not being abused."

The only people who stand to benefit from SB1248 are industrial farmers with something to hide and those who would further abuse the Tennessee Walking Horses. In fact, it was in the Senate sponsor's district - Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville - that the Tennessee Walking Horse abuse occurred. It is not a coincidence that she sponsored this legislation, and is obvious evidence of pandering to her wealthy donors who were prosecuted because of their documented animal abuse (or who fear they will be in the future if this bill does not become law). It is unconscionable to allow her to use this legislation as a safeguard against further whistleblower attempts in her district as well as a guarantee that her re-election coffers will be filled with their blood money.

Please protect consumers, animals, and the state's food safety system. Veto the "ag-gag" bill, SB 1248, and show that you will not stand on the side of those who would continue to abuse our world-famous Tennessee Walking Horses and other animals across the state.