Roy Exum: Animal Thugs Turn To Congress

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam did the right thing when he vetoed an Ag-Gag bill that the Tennessee Legislature had approved on Monday. If approved, the bill would have violated the U.S. Constitution. Similar laws have failed in 11 states this year because they also are travesties to justice -- punishing the reporter instead of the criminal, and greatly hamper law enforcement efforts.

So what do the crooks do now? It’s real easy. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee will meet Wednesday in Washington to “mark up” the Farm Bill. This is where those on the committee have five minutes in which they can change certain parts of the bill by offering amendments if they are approved by committee.

Believe it or not, there are some evil people on the Agriculture committee.

There are two of these amendments creating a great stir among animal welfare groups. The first is totally outlandish. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wants to take away the state’s right to regulate how their food is prepared. His plan would eliminate all local and county ordinances. Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, told me over the weekend, “The King Amendment is a threat to every consumer and to every animal in agriculture.”

Here is an example: This morning a “dirty lick” horse trainer, Larry Wheelon, will be hauled before a court in Maryville, Tenn., for aggravated animal abuse. King’s amendment would supersede state laws and Wheelon would really love that because he and others like him would have far weaker laws than Tennessee’s new felony to slip past. As it stands Wheelon is looking at one-to-five years in prison, but – under existing federal laws – animal abuse is still a misdemeanor. (There is another bill pending that would greatly enhance the federal Horse Protection act.)

The King Amendment would effectively overturn every voter-approved animal welfare effort in the country. It is unknown whether Rep. King is any kin to author Stephen King, but the Iowa Congressman is more horrifying. Imagine no state laws for environmental protection, workers’ rights, animal welfare or public health.  The action is so far-reaching it is deplorable that it would even be introduced.

King has spent 10 years trying to block any and all animal welfare laws. He even opposes laws that would include pets in disaster planning. Obviously driven by “big ag” money –  the food industry – King’s amendment would – what! –  allow horses to be slaughtered for food, encourage extreme confinement for chickens, pigs and calves; the list goes on and on.

The second amendment being considered is closer to home. It is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at an animal fight, but only 43 states outlaw cock fighting. Drive in any direction from Chattanooga and within the hour you can see where fighting roosters are being housed. That’s because there is money to be had from fighting dogs and chickens.

You would think that when NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 18 months in Leavenworth it would serve a deterrent, but, no, shallow people still attend dog and chicken fights and an amendment by James McGovern (D-Mass) would make it a felony to “knowing attend or knowingly cause a minor to attend an animal fighting venture.”

In other words, who is going to attend an animal fight if they face over a year in prison.  The idea, of course, is if Congress dries up the crowd, the same thing happens to the money. Sadly, cowards still have a lust for blood money, but the more that can be done to discourages the creeps, the better it is for a civilized society.

Tennessee, which is slowly making inroads on the fact it is the nation’s epicenter for horse abuse, has just arrested its second “dirty lick” horse trainer in a year and animal welfare authorities are searching for the owners of the 27 horses now being held at a secret location. If authorities can prove that the owners of horses confiscated from Jackie McConnell and Larry Wheelon knowingly had the horses sored, it is believed they could also be charged.

“This is all new ground,” one federal agent explained. “We are very careful to video these horses being examined and how each swab is handled,” but he indicated that both physical and scientific evidence that will be introduced in court today is “overwhelming.”

Wheelon, a member of the ethics committee of the Walking Horse Trainer’s Association, has a long and colorful history of violating the federal Horse Protection Act and many of those sitting on the governing boards of the National Celebration groups have also been suspended for illegal soring and sadistic practices.

Law enforcement officials, enabled when the state legislature made livestock abuse a felony, are currently investigating other walking horse trainers, but if Steve King’s amendment gains traction, it is just like Pacelle said, “It is a threat to every consumer and animal in the country.

Two Tennesseans serve on the Agriculture Committee, Steven Fincher (R-Frog Jump) and Scott Desjarlais (R-Jasper.) Fincher just responded quickly when Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell was found guilty, his comments lending hope he’ll oppose the King amendment. He said, “Today’s first-degree murder conviction of Dr. Gosnell shows there is hope.  Hope that we can change our culture that accepts such actions.  Hope that we can save little babies that bring so much love and joy to our lives." 

“The jury members put politics aside and came to the conclusion that Dr. Gosnell had murdered these innocent babies,” said Fincher. “It is my hope that folks educate themselves on what Dr. Gosnell was doing and fight in their communities to save the lives of so many precious babies.”  

While one would hope he has similar views on animals, Desjarlais is altogether of a different stripe. This fall the “Dirty Lick” crowd sponsored a reception for him and it is widely known he has placed pressure on the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to curtail soring and torture. He also urged a former mistress to have an abortion, according to court records.

Now claiming that God has forgiven him, DesJarlais can ill afford the wrath of animal welfare advocates who descended on Haslam when he faltered before vetoing the Ag-Gag bill.

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