AHS friends, we’re urgently in need of your help concerning a very serious problem brewing in the Arizona Legislature.   Members of our legislature have sponsored a bill that would strip our local and state police officers of the authority to investigate animal cruelty complaints involving livestock, including horses. Inconceivably, the bill makes it illegal for a sworn police officer to investigate if you see an emaciated, suffering horse like the ones pictured in this recent ABC15 story and call 911. It puts the Arizona Department of Agriculture – a state agency with limited staff and resources – solely in charge of these investigations.   HB2587 is what's known nationally as an Ag-Gag bill that exempts livestock – horses, pigs, cattle, goats, sheep – from the State's animal cruelty laws. It creates a separate and substantially weaker set of laws relating to cruelty to livestock, and prohibits sworn police officers from enforcing these new provisions on cruelty to livestock.   But it doesn't stop there.   It will also prevent whistleblowers from investigating cruelty cases and require that video and photographic evidence of livestock cruelty be turned over within five days to the Department of Agriculture, NOT law enforcement or media.   And it does not allow livestock cruelty to be prosecuted as a felony under any circumstance.   Similar legislation has been proposed in 11 other states after being modeled and developed by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Despite the deep pockets of ALEC, this Ag-Gag legislation has been defeated every single time.   The agricultural industry is important to Arizona and we have the utmost respect for the countless responsible ranchers in our state. However, this bill isn't about them. It is designed to make Arizona a safe haven for massive, industrial, internationally-owned, corporate livestock factories that may destroy our long, rich tradition of responsible and sustainable farming.   Contact your three state legislators before the hearing in the House Agriculture and Water Committee at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday and urge them to do whatever they can to help STOP this awful bill in its tracks! (If you do not know who represents you, click here.) If one of your Representatives is on the House Ag & Water Committee, urge them to vote NO!   Please help protect Arizona animals. Your support can make a difference. TAKE ACTION NOW!
February 8, 2014