On Monday, May 13th, 2013, Tennessee Republican Governor, Bill Haslam elected to veto the Tennessee legislation known as the Animal Abuse Reporting bill (HB 1191/S 1248) under the guise that the current wording of the legislation needs to be reworked to avoid constitutional challenges.
While I want to give Governor Haslam the benefit of the doubt, what was really at work here was an over the top effort by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights activists to pressure Governor Haslam into submission. Although there were many non-Tennessean’s such as singer Carrie Underwood and celebrity Ellen DeGeneres who were involved in this effort, HSUS, the self appointed arbitrator of animal welfare, is the loudest of the voices who regularly manipulate the facts and, in many cases, lie to support their ideological view.
While they claim the mantle of free speech, those who don’t agree are ignored or told to shut up. Unfortunately, this particular subject matter has serious consequences which ruins lives and businesses while throwing the 4th, 5th and 14th Constitutional Rights of American citizens out the window.
In this recent instance, HSUS has used every dishonest tactic available to them to pressure Governor Haslam to veto this legislation passed by the Tennessee legislature to protect animals from abuse, while also protecting the Constitutional and private property rights of citizens. The legislation, fraudulently labeled by HSUS as the “Ag Gag Bill” was a response to abuses perpetrated by HSUS and other animal rights extremists attacking animal owners, animal related businesses, and animal agriculture around the country.
HSUS targets animal owners and businesses, illegally gathers or manufactures evidence of supposed “animal cruelty,” while manipulating prosecutors and judges to obtain search warrants and/or seizure warrants against private citizens or companies. The subjects of most cases are law abiding citizens caught unprepared in a cruel web of accusations, and without legal representation or the funds to defend themselves.
HSUS takes weeks or months, and sometimes years to plan out these actions to create the biggest spectacle with the real intent of raising money from the process while destroying their target. The target is then blanketed in the media as an “animal abuser,” ruining their reputation and business before having their day in court. Overwhelmed by the process and the cost, some cop pleas to lesser charges, but those who have fought back have, in most cases, had charges dismissed. Unfortunately however, their lives and businesses are already destroyed, and their private property (animals) have been euthanized, sold off, or have disappeared without a trace.
Case in point, HSUS issued a press release last week claiming that the Tennessee Walking Horse industry required HSUS to police their industry with lengthy undercover investigations. To support that claim, HSUS produced a lengthy evaluation of the inspection results from the Super Bowl of the Tennessee walking horse industry, the 2012 Celebration intended to provide evidence for the need for HSUS’s ongoing investigations claiming that 76% of the horses were found in violation of the rules. As typical of HSUS, they again manipulated the facts and fabricated information to make their point.
The actual USDA inspection results present a much different picture with actual violations issued to only 9% of the participants rather than the 76% that HSUS would like you to believe. To further pressure Governor Haslam, HSUS and former HSUS employees (now working at USDA) orchestrated a surprise attack on a facility owned by high profile Tennessee walking horse trainer, Larry Wheelon, who has been targeted for years by animal rights activists.
The legally questionable search and subsequent seizure of 18 elite horses from the facility raises some serious questions especially when some of the horses were immediately released to an owner with ties to one of the animal rights groups involved in the seizure. Notwithstanding the fabricated propaganda, Mr. Wheelon has been charged with only one count of animal cruelty and legal sources close to the case expect the charges to be dropped. Unfortunately, HSUS and cooperative media outlets don’t care about Mr. Wheelon’s right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. They have declared him guilty, and in addition to bullying Tennessee lawmakers they are using this case to raise money for future HSUS terrorist activities.
The Tennessee Animal Abuse Reporting Bill attacked last week by HSUS would have required accusers to simply bring forth evidence of animal cruelty to law enforcement within 48 hours to get law enforcement to act. Common sense would require that if an animal is at risk, law enforcement should be contacted immediately with the evidence to protect the animal. I would think that HSUS would be in favor of such a law.
To further connect the dots, you may remember that last year Pilot Travel Centers, owned by the Haslam family, dropped their support of the Humane Society of the United States due to HSUS’s attacks on animal enterprises and agriculture. It’s clear that this correct change in corporate policy coupled with the Animal Abuse Reporting Bill awaiting Haslam’s signature put the Governor in the cross hairs of HSUS’s intimidation tactics.
Hopefully Tennessee lawmakers and Governor Haslam will rise to the challenge and reinvigorate their efforts to pass legislation to protect Tennessee citizens and businesses from those who want to abuse due process, and private property rights under the guise of animal welfare.
Mark Patterson is the CEO of The Cavalry Group a private member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related businesses, sportsmen, and agriculture concerns legally, nationwide at the local, state, and federal levels.