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Petitions: Federal lawsuits filed to fight Idaho "ag-gag" law

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As reported by The Spokesman-Review as well as several other media outlets, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ADLF) has filed suit in federal court, attempting to overturn the recently-passed "ag-gag" legislation in Idaho, which makes it illegal for anyone to conduct undercover investigations involving cruelty and abuse of animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. Senate Bill 1337 was signed into law by Idaho Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter on February 28, 2014, much to the outrage and dismay of animal advocates everywhere.

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Undercover investigations such as those conducted by Mercy for Animals have been paramount in uncovering heinous cruelty and abuse taking place in these facilities. However, rather than focusing attention on the perpetrators of the cruelty, lawmakers decided the investigations interfered with the operations and profits of these facilities, and drew up legislation to make them illegal. Now under this new law, anyone convicted of taking unauthorized video or audio recordings in these facilities could face up to a maximum fine of $5,000, restitution of twice the value of any losses to the producer, and one year in jail.

A dark cloak of secrecy now shrouds the Idaho agriculture industry, and the animals are left at the mercy of the workers. Those workers are now free to do whatever they want to the animals, without fear of discovery by undercover investigative journalists. It has been proven time and time again that many workers in these facilities take sick pleasure in the torture of these helpless animals, and it has only been thanks to the undercover investigations that the truth was made known to the general public.

The Mercy for Animals video provided here is sickeningly graphic, but it depicts the horrors inflicted upon helpless animals at just one facility. Sadly, this type of activity goes on every single day across the country, but with these "ag-gag" laws in place, the public will never be made aware of it, and the animals will continue to suffer untold pain and suffering.

ADLF has been joined by conservationist groups in the filing of this lawsuit, which points out that the law is far too broad, and could even result in convictions for someone taking photographs unrelated to the industry. The suit alleges a blatant violation of the constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of the press. ADLF brings a lot of strength to the table, and it is hoped that this lawsuit will be successful in overturning this legislation.

Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho, joined by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Center for Food Safety, and several other groups have also filed suit, citing the issues of free speech. It is rare for conservationists and animal advocacy groups to join together in actions, which indicates the magnitude and scope Idaho's law encompasses.

A Facebook group, Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation, has been formed, with up-to-date information concerning all states and activities regarding this type of legislation. It is very informative and provides a wealth of information for advocates concerning this troubling trend towards making investigations illegal.

While a petition with over 113,000 signatures was ignored by Governor Otter when he signed the Bill into law, additional petitions are now circulating, aimed at the federal level, asking that this legislation be thrown out. It is hoped that with the continued growing numbers of animal advocates speaking out and not backing down, the law will indeed be found unconstitutional and overturned.

Please consider adding your voice for these helpless animals trapped in these facilities. They have no voice other than those of animal advocates, and they have no way to escape the brutality inflicted upon them day after day. Please contact your own government representatives, and demand that they get involved in overturning this law. Also, please consider sending letters to them as well as making phone calls, to reinforce the importance of this law being overturned.

So far, eight other states have passed similar legislation. Advocates simply cannot allow this movement against the safety and protection of innocent animals to grow unchecked. The true criminals are the ones who intentionally torture these helpless animals, and not the people who record those heinous actions. It would seem these "ag-gag" laws are borne of nothing more than greed, and advocates must speak out to stop them.

Please be a voice for the animals.

Petition links:

Click here to sign the petition: "Speak Out Against Idaho’s Dangerous Ag-Gag Bill Now !"

Click here to sign the petition: "Stop Ag-Gag".

Click here to sign the petition: "IDAHO AG-GAG BILL NEEDS RESCINDED."

Click here to sign the petition: "Idaho: Stop Trying to Cover Up Animal Cruelty."

Related links:

Click here for the Mercy for Animals website.

Click here for the ADLF website.

Click here for the Facebook page: Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation.

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Thank you so much for reading and sharing the animals' stories. When advocates join together, we can all truly make a positive difference for the lives of animals everywhere. Thank you for your heart for animals.

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