House barely approves animal abuse reporting bill

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 8:59pm

A bill seeking to require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours was approved in the House on Wednesday with the bare vote minimum needed.

The chamber voted 50-43 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) after defeating several proposed amendments and an extensive debate that at times featured lawmakers making animal noises.

Bills must gain at least 50 votes in the 99-member chamber to pass. The measure now heads to Gov. Bill Haslam, who said earlier this week that he didn't know enough about the measure to say whether he would sign it into law.

Animal protection activists like the Humane Society of the United States have said the bill would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers and prevent undercover operations from establishing a pattern of abuse.

In 2011, the Humane Society secretly filmed video inside a Tennessee Walking Horse stable showing trainers applying caustic substances to the horses' legs and beating them to make them stand.

Trainer Jackie McConnell, whose stable was in Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham's West Tennessee district, pleaded guilty in federal court in September.

The Senate version passed 22-9 on Tuesday.

Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) objected to the bill during the Wednesday debate, calling it unenforceable and "Orwellian."

"If you walk down the street and see someone commit a murder and you don't report it, that's not a crime," he said, "but under your bill, if you see and record animal abuse and don't report it, that is a crime."

Among the failed amendments proposed on Wednesday was one that would have broadened it to require anyone observing animal abuse to report it and not limiting the reporting requirements to a person intentionally recording or photographing the abuse.

Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) tried to amend the bill to specify that news reporters would be protected from prosecution.

"We don't punish the people who gather the information on the crime, we punish the people who commit the crime," Lynn said.

 

8 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 4/18/13 at 5:18

If checked on closely, one will find the Farm Bureau and other Agriculture oriented
lobbyist are the ones that fight the hardest to defeat Animal abuse laws in our state.

By: Loner on 4/18/13 at 7:19

Cruella de Vil, AKA Dolroes Gresham, one of the cheerleaders for animal torture, has to be on the take to the animal cruelty special interests. What a creepy bitch.

None of this is surprising, the Tennessee Legislature has a difficult time grasping the concept of human rights, therefore they cannot begin to grasp the concept of animal rights...it's just beyond their ken.

By: whitegravy on 4/18/13 at 2:03

if yourgonna legislate.....human rights first...animal rights second

By: JeffF on 4/18/13 at 2:28

Looks like the animal organization will not be able to hold video until they get it prepped for a fundraising drive. When animals are being abused it doesn't make sense to withhold vital evidence so you can get more video of the same animal being tortured. Stop needless abuse as quickly as possible or be an accomplice to the person swinging the club or burning the helpless creature.

The only thing being blunted by this law is the publicity these groups get and the subsequent fundraising they can get out of it. If it were truly about the animals they would be saved and protected as quickly as possible.

Abuse is not a healthy activity, but I have to disagree with one poster, there is no such thing as "animal rights". Also,I have a hard time with someone labeling others a "Cruella de Vil" while they support others who silently video abuse for days, weeks, or months in hopes of getting on 20/20 or Nightline.

This would be much simpler if the entire Tennessee Walking Horse industry was banned like many of the other animal abuse traditions.

By: JeffF on 4/18/13 at 2:35

I would like to add, in a police investigation if an undercover officer were to witness the murder of an innocent person or other very serious violent crime and they did nothing in order to preserve the investigation, a judge would throw them under the jail and attempt to do worse. The concept of "sitting on evidence" is not well liked in the courts but is accepted in a narrowly defined set of situations.

How can someone who claims to love animals justify their abuse just to get more evidence later?

By: Loner on 4/19/13 at 6:14

From the Up For Debate board:

By: Loner on 4/19/13 at 7:08

There's no doubt about it, this bill was crafted as a response to the Tennessee Walking Horse scandal in 2012. Here's a refresher:

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/tennessee-walking-horses-abused/story?id=16360835#.UXEyqEpITEw

Dolores Gresham and the other sponsors of this bill are trying to protect that industry from a repeat performance by whistle-blowers.

I know of no other similar laws that apply to undercover investigations of animal abuse, or any sort of abuse or other types of criminal activity....this has to be something quite new....probably an ALEC-crafted law.

Once again, TN leads the race to the bottom....this bill stinks.

By: Loner on 4/19/13 at 6:28

Jeff, your narrative is unconvincing.

Jeff wrote: Abuse is not a healthy activity, but I have to disagree with one poster, there is no such thing as "animal rights". Also,I have a hard time with someone labeling others a "Cruella de Vil" while they support others who silently video abuse for days, weeks, or months in hopes of getting on 20/20 or Nightline.

The concept of animal rights is simply beyond the grasp of some members of our human species.....so, I will not attempt to change this guy's mind on that...he simply does not have the mental circuitry to comprehend the concept.

Of course, Jeff's wild accusation that I "support others who silently video abuse for days, weeks, or months in hopes of getting on 20/20 or Nightline" is absurd....the guy just makes it up as he goes.

By: pipecarver on 4/19/13 at 10:33

It takes a mighty big man to abuse a defenseless horse; but it only takes a donkey to enact legislation to protect said man.