Here is my letter:
Dear Assembly Member Eggman,
I am writing to you on behalf of our national membership to express our opposition to AB 343. The Companion Animal Protection Society is the only national, non-profit organization that exclusively investigates puppy mills, pet factories and pet dealers (both Internet pet sellers and pet stores). We work with law enforcement and government agencies on a daily basis and on a national scale in order to eradicate pet factory cruelty. In California, our undercover investigations are the foundation and basis for the pet sales ban ordinances in West Hollywood, Glendale and Los Angeles.
CAPS did a two year investigation of Los Angeles’ pet stores and the puppy mills that supply them. Our undercover investigations revealed multiple and repeat violations of local regs, state law and federal law. We found routine neglect and outright cruelty in sub-standard commercial breeding operations. Just to give you an example, in one of our investigations, we exposed a commercial breeder who tied a Golden Retriever to a pole and shot her to death. Adhering to our mission, we filed an extensive report (which included undercover video evidence) with the USDA and local law enforcement. The store that this commercial breeder was supplying was in Corona del Mar. I personally investigated the store, filming state code violations with a hidden camera. Because of the violations in the store and our undercover investigations of the breeders supplying the retailer, we were able to get the dog dealer shut down.
“Kathy Bauck, one of the largest and most notorious USDA-licensed dog brokers in the country was convicted of animal cruelty based on evidence from a CAPS undercover employment investigation in which a hidden camera was used. The USDA used this criminal conviction to terminate Bauck’s license. Had an Ag Gag law been in place in Minnesota, Bauck would still have 900 adult dogs and 400 puppies and be committing horrible acts of cruelty, such as C-sections without anesthesia.” ~ Deborah Howard, President and Founder of the Companion Animal Protection Society
"The undercover investigations performed by the Companion Animal Protection Society have already been stopped cold by AG Gag laws in other states. To date our puppy mill investigations have uncovered evidence of shootings, animal torture, amateur surgery, violence to animals, and living conditions evidencing squalor filth and disease. Ag Gag will chill our group and agricultural groups from otherwise lawful undercover investigations by means of unconstitutional laws enacted for the political purpose of favoring special interest groups. It is shocking that only five years after undercover footage of downed cows being beaten and rammed with forklifts -- and resulted in criminal convictions and changes to the law for downed cows -- that lawmakers would favor BigAg with the political valentine of Ag Gag laws in California. If Ag gag becomes law, then California is voting for cruelty, and we will never be able to see or stop the shocking abuse from which we must protect animals." John Maher, CAPS’ general counsel.
It is clear that AB 343 is designed by a special interest group in order to hinder whistleblowers, investigators, reporters, journalists and animal protection advocates in our work to uncover cruelty to animals. AB 343 unconstitutionally restricts individuals’ rights to report state law and federal law violations. This bill would give the people responsible for the crimes an unfair and special advantage to abuse animals while making it a crime to expose a crime.
We are not only protecting animals. We are also protecting consumers who are routinely duped by animal enterprises – commercial animal breeders/dealers who routinely abuse animals and lie to their customers about the conditions in their breeding operations. These animal enterprises would like to make it a crime to look at what they do to animals behind closed doors. They want the right to abuse animals in secret while they succeed in putting animal advocates who are brave enough to go inside, in prison.
The public has a right to know what is going on. You have a responsibility to serve the public’s right know and the animals being abused have a right to be protected.
We aim to protect them lawfully. The way the bill is worded is pernicious in its attempt to fool the public. To us, it is glaringly apparent that the CA Cattlemen’s Association, a for-profit special interest group, would like us silenced. We will not be silenced, nor will the cries of the animals it is our mission to protect.
Carole Raphaelle Davis
Carole Raphaelle Davis,West coast Director, Companion Animal Protection Society