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Exposing animal abuse amounts to petty fraud

April 15, 2011
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

Animal rights advocates have been effective for years in their efforts to highlight abuse taking place at facilities housing or processing farm animals. Secretly recorded videos showing abuse or maltreatment have an impact on the public's consciousness. Even people who enjoy eating meat do not want to see animals made to suffer for no reason.

At the same time, those who run the farms or processing facilities say it is unfair to stigmatize their industry. A few bad actors caught on video can create a perception that animal abuse is rampant when, in fact, the vast majority of farms and facilities act in a humane manner.

Some lawmakers in Minnesota now want to get involved. They have proposed a bill to make it illegal to make audio or video recordings at an animal facility without permission. A first offense would be a gross misdemeanor, with subsequent offenses felonies. Even though we live in the state's leading hog-producing county, it's difficult for us to see the point of this proposed law.

Any activist worth his or her salt is going to ignore it. Their goal is to expose abuse. Some possible time in jail is a small price to pay for these folks. And those who actually produce videos of bad behavior on farms or in processing plants are going to generate a lot of public sympathy, including among juries and judges. After all, abusing animals is a serious crime in itself. If someone exposes it, their "offense" amounts to little more than trespassing or petty fraud. The animal abuse is far worse.

Finally, no reputable farm or business that treats its animals well has to worry about any of this. And, again, that is true for the vast majority.



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