Another disturbing undercover video is going to be released this morning. Apparently it was shot at a cattle farm and depicts awful cases of blatant, deliberate animal abuse. It has not been made public at the time I write this, but Facebook is all abuzz about it. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream and many who are reading this will stumble across it.
Part of me doesn’t even want to watch, I know it will make me sick to my stomach. I know it will enrage me. Animal abuse is wrong, must be immediately exposed, and the offenders must be convicted and punished in a swift and just manner.
There has been a lot of talk about the pending legislation here in Iowa that would ban undercover documentation on farm facilities. First, let me talk about the intention of this legislation. Often times, animal rights groups will send individuals under false pretenses to gain employment at farms and then shoot undercover video of activities on the farm. Sometimes these individuals uncover legitimate abuse. Sometimes they stage or encourage acts of abuse. Sometimes they depict humane animal handling as abuse. Often, they hold onto the footage they shoot and wait to release it to the public at an opportune time. Often, they edit the footage to depict the problems, both real and concocted, to be bigger and worse than what they are. Often, the real motivation for shooting these undercover videos is all about money, donations for their charity, and not about correcting the depicted problem. Because, let’s face it, if they actually corrected the problem of animal abuse, then they’d be out of a job.
Could you imagine if someone had knowledge and video footage of a human being violently abused, and decided not to report it until it was the most beneficial to them, weeks or months later? (I’m not saying this is the case in the most recent footage, but it has been the case in the past.) To me, that is just as sick as the person doing the abuse. Animal abuse is a problem, but it is not the widespread, industry standard that animal rights groups would have you believe. Animal abuse (and not reporting it) is sick, wrong, and absolutely unacceptable.
I personally do not agree with a full out ban of undercover video on farms. I feel that individuals must be allowed the ability to document legitimate animal abuse. The solution to the problem is simple. Make it a crime to possess documentation or have knowledge of animal abuse for more than 24 hours without reporting it to authorities. Just like it’s a crime to be in possession of child pornography. Prosecute the individuals who slander farms that are using humane practices.
Finally, as a farmer who works with animals every day, I fail to see why anyone would ever intentionally and unnecessarily harm an animal. It goes against everything within me. Caring for animals is much like caring for children. Sometimes there are things we must do on the farm that creates temporary pain in our animals, and although it is hard to do, it prevents bigger and longer term pain in the long run. Just as I must allow my children to withstand the pain of a vaccination knowing it prevents worse pain in the future, I must care for my livestock the same way. That doesn’t mean it is easy for me to cause even temporary pain to an animal or my child. It does mean that I am going to take every measure possible to make my children and my animals as comfortable as possible while looking out for their well-being.
Animals rights activists will often claim that farmers only care about making money, and will abuse their animals to do so. Abuse, whether child or animal, is counter-productive. An abused child will face challenges and require more resources in life that will make it harder for them to succeed. Similarly, an abused animal will take more resources and suffer from reduced productivity. From a strictly economic standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense either.
But, in the end, the economics do not matter. It’s simply about doing the right thing for the right reasons.