The California Cattlemen's Association wants to help put an end to the abuse of livestock. The organization supports a bill now before the California Assembly that would require anyone who records animal abuse to give the evidence to the local sheriff or police within two days.
One would think animal rights activists like the Humane Society of the United States would heartily embrace Assembly Bill 343. After all, it sends a clear message that animal abuse will not be tolerated, and no one should dilly-dally in reporting this crime to the authorities.
But HSUS opposes the bill. Its representative believes it would cramp the organization's style.
"In short, this is a bill intended to suppress whistleblowers, pure and simple," HSUS spokesman Paul Shapiro said. "For that reason it should be rejected."
Two days is not enough time for someone to take evidence of animal abuse to the sheriff, he believes. Moreover, the HSUS argues that making an undercover "employee" report animal abuse would be impractical because it wouldn't allow the organization to build a case.
"Just in the same way we wouldn't ask law enforcement to immediately blow their cover and go public with all their evidence two days into their investigation, the same is the case here," Shapiro said.
However, if an undercover police officer were to witness a child being abused, he would arrest the suspect immediately. To police, it's more important to stop a serious crime now than it is to keep filming to make a video to be posted on You Tube.
The other flaw in the HSUS argument is the sheriff or the police should be building the case, not the HSUS. Police receive information about crimes all the time. It is their job to follow up on any reports of alleged criminal activity.
In fact, waiting could well allow the animal abuse to continue.
According to the cattlemen's association, in 2008 an undercover "employee" continued to watch and videotape animal abuse at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. for six weeks.
"Think about how many cows wouldn't have suffered ... and been put into the food supply" if the crime were immediately reported to authorities, said Justin Oldfield, the association's vice president of government relations.
The point that the cattlemen are making is that while HSUS is taking more photos, more animals could be abused. That is an unintended consequence of dilly-dallying.
Animal abuse must be stopped in its tracks. Whether that fits the schedule of HSUS is beside the point.