Whistleblowers now have a dedicated hotline to anonymously report animal abuse without running afoul of “ag-gag” laws aimed at criminalizing the documentation of cruelty on factory farms. The Humane Society launched the hotline (1-888-209-7177) for whistleblowers to report cruelty and neglect on factory farms, at livestock auctions and in slaughter houses, offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals.
The Humane Society said it launched the hotline “after agribusiness interests and their legislative allies made it virtually impossible to document cruelty on factory farms in a handful of states.” Factory farms rely on ag-gag laws to intimidate would-be whistleblowers from documenting and reporting abuse. The laws work to silence whistleblowers – except for those who are willing to take the risk of arrest, such as Taylor Radig, Whistleblower Insider’s 2013 Whistleblower of the Year.
Ms. Radig was arrested for documenting animal abuse at Quanah Cattle Company in Kersey, Colorado. She went undercover and stealthily filmed the horrific animal abuse she encountered there, including three Quanah employees routinely abusing newborn calves, violently dragging them by their legs, lifting them by their tails, and throwing them onto the ground. When she turned over the video to the Weld County, Colorado Sherriff’s office two months after ending her investigation, she was the one arrested for animal cruelty. But Ms. Radig’s story ends well. Following a huge public outcry, including a petition that garnered more than 186,000 signatures, the animal cruelty charges against Taylor were dropped, while charges went forward against the three workers she filmed.
To encourage whistleblowers to speak up, and to prevent stories like Ms. Radig’s from becoming common, the Humane Society will work with the United Farm Workers to distribute its hotline. Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society said “the bleak conditions endured by animals on factory farms are often made worse by overt violence and neglect…pigs are often beaten. Chickens are stomped on. Lame cows are left for dead. We want whistleblowers to know that help is just a phone call away.”
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