Animal Law Week | Undercover Animal Cruelty Investigations


PRESENTER 1: Hi, everyone. So just before I
introduce Pete, we’re going to go until
about 12:45, 12:50 just to give people time to get to
class and that kind of thing. And then we’ll start
the Q&A at 1:00. All right. So I’m very excited
to introduce Pete. He’s been doing undercover
investigations for animal rights groups for 18 years. He’s investigated–
this a very long list– puppy mills, pet
stores, facilities that sell dogs and cats to
research labs, livestock auctions, dairies, egg farms,
broiler farms, hatcheries, hog farms, commercial fishing
boats, and slaughterhouses of all kinds. He’s worked across the
US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and India. And he’s even created
an investigator training program, which is used by
multiple animal rights groups. His clients have included the
Companion Animal Protection Society, HSUS, Animal
Equality, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, the
Humane Farming Association, and the Animal
Welfare Institute. So we’re very excited to welcome
Pete to Harvard Law School and please join me in welcoming
him and thanking him for all the amazing work he’s done. [APPLAUSE] PETE: Thanks, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you for having me here. To be honest, it’s kind of a
dream come true for me to be speaking here at Harvard Law. I have been to three community
colleges, two universities, and I have zero degrees. So this is a big deal for me. [LAUGHTER] So yeah, I’m going to speak
about investigative work in the animal rights movement. And I’m going to use examples
from the kind of things that I have firsthand
knowledge of, because I don’t want to give out a lot
of abstracts or hypotheticals. I want it to be very concrete. There will be a Q&A
afterwards, so you have specific questions about an
industry that I didn’t discuss, I’m happy to answer
those questions if I can. Half my work has
been [INAUDIBLE],, slaughter, commercial fishing. The other half of
my career has been just dogs, puppy
mills, dogs sold to research labs, pet stores. I have a book coming
out about that called Rescue Dogs in the fall. So keep an eye out for that. So if I say I’m here covering
cruelty investigations, raise your hand if you have a
clue what I’m talking about. Most of you have a basic idea. Raise your hands if you’re
a lawyer or a law student. OK. All right. OK. It’s about half. So I’m going to
try to cater this. Out of the people who are
law students, how many of you are looking to work in the
animal protection movement? OK, we have a few. [APPLAUSE] I’m going to try to
[? change ?] that. How many of you
work or volunteer with any kind of NGO, any
kind of AR group, non-profit? OK, we’ve got a bunch of you. So I’m going to try
to cater this to you. Here we go. So first of all,
let me tell you I have a cap and shades on
because I do undercover work. I’m still active in the field. I know it sounds crazy
that making a living doing undercover work, this
is all it would take for me to continue to do it. [LAUGHTER] But, yes, this is all it takes. So [INAUDIBLE] accept that. So first I’ll go over why– the purposes of
undercover investigation and why I’m in it. So as I’m sure many
of you know, there’s a lot of animal rights groups
that exist in the world. And they’re all NGOs, right? They’re non-government
organizations. They’re funded
through donations. What I do is a little
bit different than what law enforcement does. If law enforcement is going to
do some kind of investigation, like animal cruelty
investigation, most often when we
think about that, we think that means that
someone– like he would say, hey, Pete, somebody
just kicked their dog. And I saw him, and he
went in that apartment. There’s nothing I
can do about it. I can’t get a warrant. Reasonable cause doesn’t
mean anything for me. I have no jurisdiction
in any particular area. I’m just a civilian. I don’t have a license. I just do what I do. When law enforcement does
undercover work for animal cruelty, if it’s on
the federal level, that’s often
wildlife trafficking. If it’s on the local
level, that is more often going to be something
that’s going to be a lot of animal fighting. And it’s going to
be usually connected to other types of crime. That’s also going to involve
arms trafficking, narcotics, gambling, things like that. It just so happens
they’re fighting dogs or fighting chickens as well. In the United States, no
law enforcement agency exists to do any kind
of undercover work for factory farms or
slaughterhouses or puppy mills. It just doesn’t exist. No one goes under control
to a lab or into a circus. It falls upon civilians. So that’s why we
do what have to do. So we’re trying to uncover
[INAUDIBLE] about things, find crimes, and we also
want to support campaigns. So as you can see, for
example, [INAUDIBLE].. So if I was to go
to a puppy mill, I would look for violations
of the Animal Welfare Act with an investigative license. I’m going to explain
that in detail in a bit. Typically what I’ll do is,
without giving away too much a methodology, I work for a
group called Companion Animal Protection Society. We’ll go into pet
stores, and we’ll get statements from people. And they’ll say, oh, all
these puppies you see, they all come from breeders. And all those breeders– I’m not making this up. This is what a lot of them say. All of you breeders
are in the Midwest because that way there’s
farmland [INAUDIBLE] and all that space to run. It’s like [INAUDIBLE] bullshit. So then I go out, and I
take pictures like this and I show people they’re
lying, depending on the state. For example, in New York,
that could be [INAUDIBLE].. [? So I could ?] fall over. I could [? hit ?] the pet store. And you see on the top right,
that’s a dead dolphin killed on a drift gill net. In 2017, I was on fishing
boats, including gill net boats. And what I saw is that, every
trip I went out on these boats, where they take
this mile-long net, and they set it
out in the ocean. And they go after schooling
fish and various sharks and sometimes tuna. Every single time, they
would get sea mammals coming up– dolphins and
sea lions is what I saw. And it’s not illegal. Perfectly fine,
catching a dolphin at [? a crop. ?] It’s
illegal not to report it. Because the feds want
to know, and once you hit a certain limit for a
protected species coming up, they cut your
fishery [INAUDIBLE].. That’s it, no one reports it. So the finding out the
truth about that industry is showing– guys, this happens all the
time, and no one reports it. The crime was that
they’re not reporting it. And so then, the campaign
that was supported was that California
passed a law, so that now that fishery
[INAUDIBLE] in 2022, there will be no more
drift gill net fisheries. You see right here is
he’s waterboarding a cow. The cows came down
from the stands, so they decided– they punched
and kicked it in the face and decided to spray
her in the face. This was at Andrus Dairy
Farm in Wisconsin in 2013. The truth about
the dairy industry is there’s constantly
animal abuse of new cows that don’t know what to do when
they’re going to get milked. And there’s constantly
abuse of old downed calves. The crimes that we look for– which I’ll explain
in a bit– there’s predictable criminal
behavior we focus on that includes abusing bound cows. And the campaigns that
we focus on– this case was done for an NGO
called Mercy for Animals, and they used this
so that Great Lakes Cheese would then change some of
their animal welfare policies. That’s kind of the
dynamic that we go with. When we do this– this is for all
you law students– I’m sure this is kind of a
big thing you want to know. There are certain legal concerns
that we have to focus on before we even go in. I can’t get into too much
about our methodology, but depending on our target,
there’s different things that we can do. We can do surveillance. We can do a walk-on. A walk-on is like– you have a puppy mill. I want to buy some puppies. Let me just take a
look around, and I’m going to look for stuff that
[? creates ?] a terrible puppy mill. And then the employment-based
cases, which is, hey, can I please work
at your puppy mill? And then that’s when I’m
going to see probably a lot more criminal activity
than just if I walked on So you’re going to say, oh,
this concerns ag-gag laws. Does anyone not know
what an ag-gag is? An Ag-gag law exists
in a few states but are getting
overturned because they’re unconstitutional, but
there are different kinds. Sometimes the ag-gag
laws specifically say, you cannot misrepresent
yourself to obtain employment at an animal enterprise. So for example, if you want
to work on your home farm. I can say, hey I’m
Pete, and that’s it. Now, I’ll give you my real name. I’ll give you my real date
of birth and all that. But if you ask me, do you work
for an animal rights group, I would lie and say no. And then I [? would ?]
be violating the law. Now, there’s some more
insidious ag-gag laws. For example, the ones that
say, if you see animal abuse, you have to report
it in 24 hours. That sounds good, but
that is there simply to protect the industry. Because the reason that we
do employment-based cases, is because when you see a
crime, you will make sure– well, first of all, as
I’ll explain in a bit, it’s very difficult at times
to understand what is a crime and what is not. And so you have to
take time to verify it. You can’t really do
that in 24 hours. You also want to
determine, is there a pattern of criminal activity? Who else is engaged
in criminal activity? Is management or are
the owners aware of it? So let’s just say that,
like with a calf ranch I worked at in Texas
years ago, people would use blunt force
trauma with hammers to euthanize calves. It’s legal. Or they’d shoot the
calves in the head. It’s legal. But they didn’t do it properly. So I’d go over to the
dead pile, and because I’m working at the place, and I’d
see these calves with bullet wounds, or their skulls
are partially caved in, and they’re still breathing. Now we have crime. But what I had to do was
I had to go to the owner, and I had to say, hey,
this is what’s happening. This calf isn’t
properly euthanized. Something needs to be done. And then his response was, yeah,
we’ll get to it the next day. So I had to wait over 24
hours, and I had to determine, is anything done? In fact, nothing is done. That led to a cruelty charge
that stuck on the owner. But I had to be there
for quite some time. So that’s why these ag-gag
laws, they’re a big concern. But they’re constantly
getting overturned. Recording laws, you have to
know your recording laws. For example, here
in Massachusetts, I can not record audio without
the consent of all parties. And in some places, you can’t
use hidden video cameras. In other states, it’s
a little more iffy. For example,
California and Florida, those are one party
consent states. They have a different
statute than you have here in Massachusetts. You cannot record audio. You can record
video all you want. Or I could go into your home– here in California I
could go into your home or your property, record
video, and that’s fine. But I can’t record audio
of our conversation, unless you have no reasonable
expectation of privacy. So, I went to 40 pet
stores in California a couple of years ago for the
Companion Animal Protection Society. And I recorded
audio all day long. Because customers were going
in and out of the stores. And I felt, they have no
reasonable expectation of privacy. So, no one had sued. I did the same thing in Florida. But several stores
that I’d walk into, they had they weird
establishments where I’d hit a doorbell,
and someone unlocks the door. And I would look inside, and I
would see no one else inside. And after I stepped
in, [INAUDIBLE] the guy shut and locked the
door, so I killed my recording. Because I realized
at that point, there’s a reasonable
expectation of privacy that nobody can walk
through that locked door. If the door was unlocked, it
might be reasonable to assume, in order to walk
through any points, I’ll record audio all day long. It gets a little trickier– I remember I went to an elite
slaughterhouse in California, and I had to convince the
guy that I wasn’t a cop. And then he was very concerned. He was illegally butchering
animals for people, and I had to get him to
admit that he’s doing it. I had to document him doing it. And it was his
private residence. And members of the public were
coming up, coming and going, but he had to allow [INAUDIBLE]. So I brought a trainee with
me that I was training, and I had her stand aside,
just within ear-shot, so I could record his
confession that he knew he was operating
illegally and document the animal cruelty. And then I gave it
over to the DA’s office in Los Angeles
County, California. And I said to the ADA
handling on the case, the assistant district
attorney, handling the case, listen, I want to be
the witness for you. I understand what I did
was a little sketchy, but I want to continue
to be a witness. Is this OK? And her response to me was,
we choose who to prosecute. We are choosing to
not prosecute you. I don’t know if I
broke the law or not, but those kinds of things
come up in investigations. I don’t think I did,
but who’s to say? Trespassing laws. Trespassing laws, they
can be a little difficult to deal with, [? if it said ?]
you can’t misrepresent yourself to obtain access to
someone’s property. But it can get a lot
more shady than that. In Missouri, if you unknowingly
enter someone’s property, and they have no signs
posted, and they had no fence, you have committed
a criminal trespass. Mind blowing, right? It means if you walk
onto someone’s front yard in Missouri, and they
don’t want you there, you just broke the law
and can be arrested. So it’s really tough [INAUDIBLE]
puppy mills in Missouri. It’s kind of hard. Whereas, if it’s many other
states, where the laws will be very specific, they’ll say
that trespass means that they have to have told you to leave. Or you had to have
crossed a fence. Or there has to be a No
Trespassing sign that you saw. Or they have paint markings,
like a purple paint marking, but it has to be
between here, and here, and it has to be spaced
every 50 feet out. Or previously, the owner
has said, don’t come back. Or the land is
clearly being used for an agricultural purpose. You can’t go walking in
the guy’s corn field. Now, what that means to me, is
that if you don’t have a fence, and you don’t have a
sign and that’s the law, I’m going to walk right the hell
on your property, and I’m OK. But I have sat in the back
of the many police cars arguing the law with many
cops, and it is always been very tense situations. And I was convicted in
one of those instances, but it’s now expunged. But I did not break the law. In fact, the guy’s property
I was on threw a shovel at me and had his guard dog chase me. He was not arrested, but I was. So now, let me go over
what we’re looking for. I don’t have time,
unfortunately. This would take an hour
to go through all this, but I just wanted to use
this to illustrate that– for those of you who work
for NGO or you’re looking to go work for an NGO, if say
there was a group who, you’re breaking into a new industry
that you have investigated before or that NGO has not
done an investigation before– there are some exceptions but
police [? are now ?] in this. By now, it has been done. And when we go
into a facility, we are looking for predictible
criminal activity. You go into any current
commercial animal operation. The more human contact with
animals, the more cruelty and abuse, the more physical
abuse there’s going to be. The less human contact with
the animals, the more neglect. There are specific things
that we’re looking for. I’ll just give a
couple examples here. Like an egg farm, I’ve
worked on three egg farms. Two of them were cage
and had cage-free barns. One of them was just caged. It didn’t matter. What I was looking for was hens
that were almost dead, but not quite dead. And as someone’s going through
the trashcan, I picked them up, and I throw the dead
in the trashcans. They’re going to take the
one’s that are partially alive, and they don’t always
euthanize them, because to euthanize
a hen, you’re supposed to swing them around
by the neck in order to do that. The feces goes in a big circle. Right. So nobody wants to
get the place dirty. So they throw them
alive in the trash can and bury them in their own dead. It’s the go-to crime to look for
at any egg farm that you go to. If you are going to
a hog farm, anyone who knows anything
about undercover work, everyone knows you’re
looking for abuse, physical abuse of the
sows from gestation to [? farrow. ?] You’re
looking for wounds that are not treated. You’re looking for
improper euthanization. When they [? found ?]
the piglets that they smack them
once, and then they left them to suffer because
they’re improperly killed. There are just typical
things that we’re going for. And what I really want to focus
on, why I want to [INAUDIBLE],, I want to go through [INAUDIBLE]
I want to explain to you why crimes are so common
and so predictable on commercial facilities. It’s not just that
we’re looking to show the things that look bad. We’re looking for
specific crimes. But there are two types of
evidence that we go for. With criminal evidence, we
go for campaign evidence. So this, this picture
on the left, this is a puppy mill
that I worked at. And this mastiff, this is a bull
mastiff, he had gotten skinny, and the puppy miller didn’t
really do anything for him. I reported the dog’s condition. So it took more than 24
hours to handle this. I had to show this dog’s
deteriorating condition. I had to report the
dog’s condition. I had to show how over
the process of a few days, the puppy miller didn’t
have a vet come by, and was aware that the dog was
in a deteriorating condition. Until he started vomiting blood
and seizing, at this point I put him in the
back of a truck, and the puppy
miller’s husband went to go shoot him in the head. There were multiple charges
brought against her. But this was one of them that
nailed her on a torture charge under Minnesota state law. So for cruelty, going
back, obviously it’s useful to law enforcement. But what it’s also
useful for is– this is my big point. It is useful to the public. Because if you want to ask,
what is wrong with puppy mills? And what really happens there? There’s a lot of
[? theories ?] we have of them, but this is [INAUDIBLE]. It was at a cat and [INAUDIBLE]
puppy mill, pick a litter. It’s the only undercover
employer [? face-to-face ?] ever done at a puppy mill. So I got to see the
day in, day out, for eight weeks, what goes on. And that information
was useful to public. But furthermore,
the fact that there was so much cruel evidence
that was obtained, that validates the
investigation by itself. And if the case
is validated, that makes it useful to the
legislators as well. Now, I put this final point
here because I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this. There are a lot of
animal rights groups that very much disagree
with me on this point. They believe that
criminal evidence distracts from a campaign goal. Their goal, for example,
might be to say, at our farm, do away with all
gestation crates. And so they say that
if you focus on crimes, you’re distracting from that. From what I’ve personally
seen, focusing on those crimes, and law enforcement
takes action, it increases the
chance the press is going to show what’s going on. More people are going
to pay attention, and then you will likely
get legislative action. Also as an investigator, I have
to say it’s a big deal for me, because it validates what we do. One of the biggest
problems I encounter when we’re on the field
is law enforcement not taking me seriously
because they just think that most animal rights
groups are [INAUDIBLE].. They’re out there only
to make someone look bad. Criminal evidence is different. Whereas this, the campaign
evidence, as you can see, this is a shot I
got of this chicken. I took this in Brazil. She’s in a battering cage. I focused the camera
really nice to get her face and showed [INAUDIBLE],, and
it’s useful for this PowerPoint presentation. That’s it. [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE] I’m trying
to [INAUDIBLE] in Brazil. Nothing happened. I bet that if there was a focus
by law enforcement on crimes that were being committed
in those facilities, which we did see some, maybe there
could have been [INAUDIBLE] So [INAUDIBLE]
wants [INAUDIBLE].. This guy, this is a still from
a video I took from a hog farm I worked on in Oklahoma
a few years ago. There’s a lot of abuse there. But this particular
sow, she came out of her gestation crate. She started [INAUDIBLE]
down the hall. She had to go to
[INAUDIBLE],, and she knows where she’s going to go. She stops. She doesn’t to go there,
so she wants to run around the gestation barn. So this guy starts
poking her in the eyes, ripping tufts of
hair out of her back, and drop-kicking her in the
face, as you can see here. That’s illegal. Illegal abuse causes
unnecessary suffering. And that’s going to be the
main thing you’re going to go for in cruelty cases. So if you have a
sow who is rubbing against the bars in
the [INAUDIBLE] crate, in their gestation crate,
and they get big old sores, and they’re not being
treated, and they’re wounded or suffering, that’s
unnecessary suffering. You can use that for neglect. If they throw a piglet– and it’s illegal. It’s blunt force trauma. That piglet’s still alive. You come back 10 minutes
later, 30 minutes later. That’s unnecessary
suffering, especially if someone is aware of it, and
doesn’t do something about it. But if you want to keep that
same sow in this tiny crate, so she barely has an inch
to move, that’s fine. You want to take
her piglets away, you want to rip
the testicles out– there I said it–
that’s perfectly fine. Because those are standard
industry practices. Standard industry
practices are always going to be affirmative
defense to a cruelty charge, because it’s going to be
written in the state law. And it’s going to say, if
this is normal, then it’s OK. This gets sketchy when
you go to a court. And this is going to be
really sketchy when you’re writing your reports
and trying to help out your NGO cruelty case. The way I like to
explain this is– anybody here have
martial arts experience? Raise your hand if you have
any martial arts experience. One. [LAUGHTER] I’ll try to give you an example. For a brief bit, I was
a volunteer firefighter, and when I’d go
through the academy, we all had to do
all these things. We had to take all
these different courses, and we had to learn every
little thing that you wanted [? in ?] fire fighting. And part of the
reason that we had to go over every little thing,
it was just [? bullshit. ?] That was it. They wanted to say that
we check off the list, and say we know how
to do this, and we’re going to do it properly. And then you get called
and go somewhere, and no one would do a fucking
thing [INAUDIBLE] training. And what I learned was that they
really say, there’s book world, and there’s real world. And I’m sorry to say, but
that’s the same for the law. As many of you are learning as
you’re going to your classes, it’s a big gray area. And the law, animal
cruelty included, does not have as much to do
with what’s actually written in the books, as it does with
the individual personalities of law enforcement officers,
prosecutors, and judges. They will interpret it
however the hell they want. And they are people. And people are easily corrupted. So let’s stick
with the hog farm. Let’s stick with this
hog farm that I was at. I watched a Tyson vet come
in one day [INAUDIBLE].. I’m not making this up. A Tyson vet comes in,
and they’re talking about this one down sow. She’s in terrible shape. She’s obviously suffering. They aren’t giving
her any medicine because there’s going to be
too long of a withdrawal time. I forget the medicine, but it
had a month withdrawal time. So he would give
her this antibiotic to the sow to treat her for this
prolapsed vagina that she had, and then send her to
slaughter after the month. By then, the chemical
would be out of her system. But, for reasons unknown
to me, all of a sudden, that changed now to three
month withdrawal time. So the Tyson vet is
exploiting the farm owner, yet you just have
to make the call. Do you think she
suffered too bad? Do you think she’ll
make it if you just don’t give her medicine? Do you want to just kill
her and lose the money? You just make that call. So, was it illegal
to not euthanize her? Should they have
euthanized her, or was it unnecessary suffering? Kind of hard to say. Seems to me like it is,
but the local DA did not believe that it was,
wouldn’t even the case for this and numerous
other crimes. Just decided, no,
that’s what you do to move a sow that won’t move. I remember when
I was at a dairy, I’ll show you a picture shortly,
but when I was at a dairy. The [INAUDIBLE] vet
[? has shown up ?] at the dairy. I see a downed cow. And one of the
things that I saw was that the foreman of the facility
quarantined her and shocked the cow 50 times, put a
shimmery around her neck and dragged her out. And so there were charges
brought against a lot of workers, but not this guy. And so I went to go testify
against one of the workers. He pled out when he realized
I was there to testify. That I went to go testify. And I’m waiting there,
and I see to Sheriff Brown of the Twin Falls County
Sheriff’s Department, and I say, why did
you not recommend the DA bring charges
against this guy for what he did to that downed cow? And his response
to me was, that’s what I do to cows that
won’t stand on my own ranch. So that’s just how he
interpreted the law. So I hope that answers
all of your questions about animal cruelty [INAUDIBLE] Sorry. Limited time. So now what I want to
do is I want to talk about the Animal Welfare Act. Raise your hand if you know
what the Animal Welfare Act is. OK. Now keep those
hands up if you know that law enforcement cannot
enforce the Animal Welfare Act. OK. So a few of you. So for those of
you with us, sorry. [INAUDIBLE] I’m going to
[? hound ?] this point. This will be [? big. ?] OK. So this is applies only to
USDA licenses, [INAUDIBLE].. US Department of Agriculture
licenses certain facilities. Not farms, like CAFOs, like
a hog farm, or bull farm, certain facilities, things that
have to do with agriculture, like circuses and [INAUDIBLE]. For some reason that’s
what they license. They also license
dog breeding kennels. That one kind of makes sense,
because you’re a commercial dog breeding kennel,
if you’re selling dogs, puppies, a certain way,
and a certain number of them. Those dogs are going to be
livestock under most state law. So it kind of makes sense
why they license them. But [INAUDIBLE] they
license [INAUDIBLE].. It talks about what you
can do with your tiger in your exhibition facility, or
what you can do with your dogs at your puppy mill. So for example, you have
a few violations up here. This dog has a wounded ear,
and it had not been tended. It’s a big giant
infection on the ear. There’s peeling
paint, there’s over 24 hours of manure on the floor,
and there’s rusting cage wire. That’s four violations
there right there. But this often confuses
law enforcement. The USDA enforces the
Animal Welfare Act. There are a specific set of
regulations for their licenses. You sir, you have a puppy mill. All right. So I show up at your puppy mill. And I’m like, all right. I see cobwebs all
over the place, and it’s too dark in here. I can’t see clearly. There’s two violations. There’s a lighting violation. And then you have a cobweb. That’s a general
facility violation. I also see you have
this dog over here, and she’s got an open wound,
and I ask you about it, and you’re like, fuck her. I don’t care. She won’t breed for
me, not being treated. So I say, OK. Now we have a third
[INAUDIBLE] welfare violation. That’s a violation of refusal to
vet care of the Animal Welfare Act regulations. But in addition to that, he was
causing unnecessary suffering to his dog. That is a violation of
the state cruelty statute. So who enforces what? The USDA enforces
the cobweb, lighting, and vet care violation for
the Animal Welfare Act. The local sheriff’s
department should enforce the same
cruelty statute, also for the vet care act. But it was a vet care violation. It has nothing to do with
the Animal Welfare Act. It has to do with the fact that
violates state cruelty statute. Raise your hand if I’m confusing
the hell out of you right now. [LAUGHTER] Really? OK. Sorry. It confuses most law
enforcement officers. Most law enforcement officers
[INAUDIBLE] so when I show up and say, OK, I saw this dog,
this dog is suffering terribly, and dying, and untreated wounds,
something needs to be done. And the cop will say to me. All right, well, you
should go to the USDA. All right. Maybe [INAUDIBLE] they should
do something, because it’s an Animal Welfare Violation. Let’s just say these are your
dogs, and I go up to you, and I’m a USDA inspector, I
can say, for your dying dog, you have a dog that is
dying, a neglected dog. And you’ve kicked the
dog in front of me. So obviously he’s dead. And I say, OK. That’s a very, very
clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act. And you had some
rusting cage wire. And you have too
much [INAUDIBLE] I’m writing you up. That’s a fine for you. I’m fining you. If I really, really want–
they actually won’t, and I’ll explain this in a minute. They won’t. But I could say, I recommend
that I suspend or terminate your USDA license. And that means that if
all of that happened, maybe you wouldn’t
be breeding dogs. There’s no jail time. Because it’s a USDA inspector. I’m not a cop. Can I enforce state law
or the Animal Welfare Act? A cop would walk up, and he
would say, I don’t [INAUDIBLE] around. There’s nothing
[INAUDIBLE],, and there’s nothing in the state
cruelty statute about rust. You cannot kick your
dog in front of me. So the cop doesn’t give a
shit about just fining you, or whether or not you
can keep breeding. The cop hauls your ass to jail. That’s a violation of state law. It’s two very different things. So now also, the Animal Welfare
Act, just as a side note, has nothing to do with
psychological well-being of dogs [INAUDIBLE] out there. That’s going to
be a thing for me. As you can see, this
picture on the left, this is a very typical
style puppy mill. And what you’ll
see, is normally you have dogs where they’ll
have a little inside cage, and then they have
an outside cage. It’s a very common
thing called spinners where, I don’t know
why, but it’s always in left-hand circles, where dogs
just run in left-hand circles. And when you rescue them and
get them out, and put them somewhere, you will see the
dogs and they’ll often just run around in a little circle
about the size of the enclosure that they used to be in. Kind of like in those
state cruelty statutes, but also in the federal
Animal Welfare Act, there is nothing in there about
the psychological well-being of any animals whatsoever. So that’s something
that needs to change. But also, the USDA changes how
they enforce the Animal Welfare Act, specifically to
make it less effective. We’re getting a little
bit into the weeds here, but this is what I think is
important for especially law students to know. I keep mentioning the Companion
Animal Protection Society, and also called CAPS. They were one of the [? live ?]
groups, and they pass the laws. For example, it got
some awesome laws passed that said, all right. If you are a pet store,
let’s say New York City. It Passes great laws. Let’s say you’re a pet store,
and you cannot buy from any breeder that has had
a direct violation. A direct violation means
it’s directly on the dog, like a wounded ear, an
infected ear, right, or teeth falling our of
their head, right, or matted fur or something. And you also can’t
have a certain number of indirect violations– cobwebs, lighting,
rust, things like that. If we see that you had some of
the more indirect violations, or one of the direct, pet
stores can’t buy from them. So that’s going to cut
down on big business. [? I might ?] go out in the
field and I’d [? see, ?] oh shit, there’s less puppy mills. These places are closing
down, because they can’t sell to pet stores anymore. So the USDA changed how we
enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Their [? belief, ?]
as they said, fine. The biggest alleged
violations that exist are bad teeth, teeth
rotting out of dogs’ heads, and matted fur that
causes skin conditions. And the USDA now says
those no longer count as direct violations. They won’t even
write you up for it. What they also said, is that– OK, going back to
the puppy mill. You have cobwebs. You’ve got shitty lighting, and
I say, those are violations. Listen, do you think
you can fix that soon? And if you just say yes, I
call that a teachable moment. And then I literally– that’s the actual phrase. I don’t even write
it in my report. And the reason I don’t
write in my report, is that way it can’t be
[? forwarded. ?] Nobody can ever find out about your
place, so no activist can ever get that information and
go to a pet store and say, oh shit, this breeder
has violations. It protects the
industry that they are supposed to inspect
and enforce regulations on, and thereby keeps
them in business. Does that make sense? OK. So that’s the big problems
we have with the USDA, and that’s what needs
to change there. Now, got a little bit of time. OK. Now, I want to get in to what
I’m very excited to talk about. I kind of rushed through d
that, so I can talk about this. This is the big thing for me. It is why everybody
commits so much abuse. I remember I started doing this
back in ’01, and for every case that worked, there was a lot of
stuff that I’ve seen that I say is predictable. I’ve also just seen,
and I don’t know how else to explain this,
a lot of weird, crazy shit. One [INAUDIBLE]
cow, that’s crazy. I’ve seen [INAUDIBLE] cows. I have seen people submerging
dogs in insecticide, et cetera, because
they’re like, oh, that means that you’re
dipping the dog, when it clearly says on the label,
just spray the dog’s enclosure. I worked with a bird farm, where
after the catching crew came through, there were a few
[? rollers ?] left over, and for reasons unknown to
them, I asked the owner, I said, hey man, you still got
a few chickens here, and all the feeding lines and
the water line are all off. They can’t access it. Do you want me to put it down? What do you want to do? He said, no, just leave them. The raccoons will get
them, and then the cats will get them in a day or two,
and then the coyotes will come and they’ll take
care of the rest. And for some reason, it
was just a specific plan to leave them to starve
until predators took them, even though he was
well aware that an E. coli outbreak on
the farm that was going to spread to wildlife. I can never explain to you
why the hell that I did that. But that kind of
thing we see commonly. And I think I can try to explain
why is the common thread so much crazy stuff that goes on. Working conditions, situations
that the workers are in, the cultural community,
problems with law enforcement, problems with the government–
let’s go over them in detail one by one. OK. [LAUGHTER] So working conditions–
this is the cow I was telling you
about, that the dairy had shot and dragged out. So at this dairy, as an
example, this was one called [? Benton ?] [? Group ?]
Dairy, and I was day shift, and I worked 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. My job was, I was the runner,
and I was supposed to go. And had to get all the cows
in every pen into the dairy, into the milking parlor,
and get them back out. Now, there were two
milking parlors, and there had to be
two, because there were over 10,000 cows in this dairy. So we had over 5,000
maybe just from my parlor. When I showed up 6:00
AM in the morning, we were standing there,
and patiently waiting for anyone to clamp the parlor. I was following the night
runner to get his damn cows out of the way so I could
get mine through. And at the end of the day
at 6:00 PM, the same thing. The night runner was just
right there on my heels, waiting for me to just
hurry up and finish. Even though we worked that
hard, we had no time for breaks. A little taco truck
would come by, and we’d get a plate of food,
and we would fill our mouths with food, and then we’d be
chewing as we’re running around to milk the cows. There is stress. There is sleep deprivation. You are hungry as hell. And on top of it, for
a lot of these workers, I think US State
Department says about half the agricultural workforce
is illegal immigrants. In my personal experience,
just for calf farms, I’d say I’ve seen closer to
90% of the people I worked with were illegal immigrants. And guys, most of them
may not have smartphones. They don’t have TV. They don’t have computers. I mean, they’ve got
nothing to go back home to. Life is not that great for them. And they are tired. They are worn out. And then this cow falls over. She’s just being lazy. Or this cow goes
in the wrong stall. Or this fucking
sow, knowing she’s supposed to go
out of this crate, and go in to the other one,
and you may be otherwise a good person who treats
your family, friends, and co-workers very, very well. But you’re not going
to treat an animal that well in that
moment, because you’re going to get in a lot of
trouble if you don’t just make that animal move. And that is just
a big reason why we so commonly see people do
these things that we otherwise can’t believe. It’s just the conditions. On top of it, the criminal
history and immigration status of the workers. So I’ve never worked a
single undercover case, an employment-based undercover
case, ever in my life where I did not see routine
criminal animal cruelty. So you’re going to see it. Go to [INAUDIBLE],, or CAFO,
or slaughterhouse is closest. You’re trying to do all right. So you’re there. But if you’re a
felon, what the hell are you going to do about it? Can’t vote. Can’t own a gun. Can’t get a good job. You’re pretty screwed. Are you really going to rat
out your co-workers now? Not only are you
felon, you’re a rat. So you just let it go, and
that perpetuates the abuse. If you’re an illegal
immigrant, you literally have no right to deal with it. You’re just going to get
thrown out of the country, and no one’s going to
listen to you anyway. So you just kind of
tolerate it, and that is part of what makes
a culture of cruelty. This is a still
from a video I took when I worked at [? Panatauk ?]
Stockyards, which is a livestock auction in
Mississippi, back in 2014. Now, I was working at
three livestock auctions at that time–
[? Panatauk ?] and two others that were south of there. In this specific incident, this
was a down, low down bull calf. And he came down, and so
you see that this guy, he’s one of the workers. This is the customer
who purchased the bull. This guy is using a front end
loader to lift up the bull and try to put him in a trailer. Fourth time was the charm. Three times, that
guy flipped off. His head slammed into
the side of the gate, collapsed on the ground. Well that’s not the crazy thing. Here’s the crazy thing. See those trees on the right? That’s a road. Over here is Highway 276, a
major highway in Mississippi. And right back here, is everyone
else in the fucking livestock auction– customers, employees, everyone. No one cared. Most of the crew, the
vast majority of the crew at auction, were teenage kids. And at a livestock
auction, the [INAUDIBLE] abuse of small animals. Abuse of downed animals
is big, but small animals get abused, because they
can’t really hurt you back. A cow will kick the
shit out of you. What does a goat
really going to do? Grab back the horns, and
throw them– or a sheep, or a little pig. Right. So there’s a lot of
beating them with sticks, punching, kicking them, throwing
them, a lot of stuff like that. So not only would
the kids do it, but I would see customers do
it, or order employees to do it. Like, hit that fucking
thing and walk with it. And these are a bunch
of little teenagers, and they were so
respectful to me. I was much older than them. They would call me sir. They would always want to
listen to what I’d have to say. But they were
terrible [INAUDIBLE].. Now, they committed
the same crimes that the crew did who worked
the other two livestock auctions I was at. The difference is, at this
place, [? Panatauk, ?] that was a bunch of white
high school kids. The other two auctions
were all black felons. Those guys got convicted. The white teenagers did not. And so it was the culture. [INAUDIBLE] my
point is that a part of the problem with
the culture there is that it wasn’t just the
workers in the local community. It was also law enforcement. It was cops, the DA’s office. It was everybody. Just like with this
pig, when no one cared about her because the
local sheriff just decided– the local sheriff
didn’t want to prosecute a foreman in a big company. Now we get to law enforcement,
apathy, and corruption. Let me just say if anyone
here is in law enforcement, or has family or friends
in law enforcement, I do not mean to offend you. I love law enforcement. I have a lot of friends who are
all levels of law enforcement. I love law enforcement
so much that I have tried to leave my job
to apply to become a cop. I really law enforcement. That said, I deal with an
enormous amount of apathy and corruption, especially
outside cities, especially in the rural America. [INAUDIBLE] is the
biggest problem. They’re kind of rough. So briefly, this is a still. Sorry it’s a little
fuzzy, but this is still I took of a puppy mill I was at
called [INAUDIBLE] Puppyland. You can see the full
video on the CAPS website. This was back in 2007. I showed this puppy mill, and
I couldn’t work with audio, because of Illinois state law. [INAUDIBLE] showing their
dogs, and I look at this cage, and there’s a puppy. This one, little chihuahua,
got a [INAUDIBLE] and she just seizing, shaking. That’s a problem, right. But I ask, is she doing
anything for the puppy? Because if she’s
treating the puppy, it might not be a violation. She might be aware,
just treating it. But she said to me, no. Sometimes they
just don’t make it. She expected the puppy to die. OK. Dying puppy, she’s
not doing anything. That’s an imminent
threat to life situation. That means law enforcement
needs to respond immediately, so I leave. I call animal control, report
the situation, and they say, we’re on it. But I sit at a crossroad
for about 10 minutes, and I wait, and I don’t
see a car come by. So I call them again. And they say, yeah, we’re on it. We’re responding to other calls. I said, even if [INAUDIBLE]. I’m calling BS. So I try going to
animal control, and when I get to
animal control, the local head of the
animal control facility tells me she’s angry at
me for filming this place. And she accuses me of
breaking the law for filming. I say that I’m not. And I realize, shit, they’re
not going to do anything. So I go to the
sheriff’s department. When I go to the
sheriff’s department, the local sheriff
says, yeah, I’m just not going to do anything. I’m going to refer it
to the state ag guy. You can go to him if you want. So I go to the state
ag guy who doesn’t enforce cruelty statutes. He just enforces his
kettle licensing. He tells me, I don’t like the
group that you’re working for, and when I was out
there a few days ago, I didn’t see that problem, so
I’m not going to do anything. So I got the state attorney’s
office immediately afterwards. And the state attorney,
as I’m talking to him, he sits there and
types on his laptop and flips his laptop around. He shows me that previously
my client had bad-mouthed him on the internet for doing
the same damn thing from us reporting cruelty to him,
and he did nothing about it. I went to animal control. I went to the sheriff,
went to state ag, went to state
attorney, and no one would do anything
for one dying puppy. And I’m sorry to
say, but that is the norm in the United States. It’s just how it is here. You go to, even for dogs. Boston, Massachusetts
is different. Someone is going to
kick a dog on the street out here in Boston, I bet
you a Boston PD would just pound that guy in the ground. You do it in rural
America, especially to dogs that are
livestock, that are at a commercial facility,
most of the time, nothing is going to be done. That’s why employer-based
investigations take longer than 24 hours to do. They are so important to show
a pattern of abuse and everyone who is involved to compel local
LE, local law enforcement, to do something. Finally, government corruption. I talked a bit about the USDA. That’s what I mean by
government corruption. The USDA changing how they
enforce the Animal Welfare Act is an example of that. But I hate to say this– it’s a lot more
insidious than that. I know it sounds like
I’m making this up. But I’m just here to tell you. Most of the time,
it doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial
fishing boat, AND we’re talking about
a state inspector. It doesn’t matter if you’re
talking about federal USDA inspector, enforcing the AWA. Most of the time,
they’re just not going to do anything, because, OK. Go back to your puppy mill. [INAUDIBLE] puppy. If I’m inspecting
your puppy mill– I have a story behind this. I don’t think I have
time to tell it. But, if I go to your puppy
mill, I know you now. You’re my buddy now. I see you every year, and I
got to see her puppy mill. I got to see her puppy mill. I don’t want to be
the guy everybody hates, because I live in state. So I’m going to kind
of let things go. It’s easier for me to
not worry about problems. Otherwise, let’s just say
you have a slaughterhouse. This is a slaughterhouse
[INAUDIBLE].. Sorry, I’m not telling
the whole story. If I go to your slaughterhouse,
and I have to stand there, if I have to watch
over your shoulder and watch for
violations, you are going to make it very
uncomfortable for me to be here in a 10-hour shift
for every little thing that I’m pointing out. My life is going to be hell. So I let it go. I just don’t care. I saw the same thing in
commercial fishing boats. I saw people who were– a guy was bragging
about shooting sea lions with a shotgun, and
the state inspector was just laughing about
it, saying, yeah, I mean, you’ve got to defend yourself
from those vicious sea lions. So because of all
of these reasons, we can predict
violations of the law, and we can predict
specific violations. That is my presentation. [APPLAUSE] PRESENTER 2: We keep saying the
USDA changing their inspections criteria and [? why ?]
we [? have ?] violations. The head of USDA’s
animal care [? line ?] said that, the reason
that you are doing so is because all of these
laws that are saying you couldn’t purchase them from– [INAUDIBLE] these violations. They said they were hindering
the USDA’s clients from getting their products to the
market, and the USDA felt that their job
was to help them get their products to market. So they’re just going to
stop writing violations. USDA has this perverse job of
both regulating and promoting agriculture, and I
think that’s [INAUDIBLE] Anyone who has to leave for
class, feel free to do so. And we’ll ask some questions. If you just put up your
hand, and we’ll bring you the mic for the question,
because we’re recording. [INAUDIBLE] back to you. First question. AUDIENCE 1: I was
just wondering, do you have any experience
with wildlife violations in terms of hunting permits
and stuff like that? And I also am wondering
if you’ve been blacklisted by any of these places. [INAUDIBLE] PETE: The only
wildlife experience I have is commercial fishing. I have limited– the only
real wildlife experience I have is fox
petting, where people have the foxes and coyotes
put in to pens, and then dogs chase them to see how
many dogs can corner them, get close to them, you
score points for them, and they chase them. And that’s about it. No poaching experience. As far as being
blacklisted, yeah. [LAUGHTER] They have my name, and all
my info, and everything. And I can’t go into
a lot of methodology, but it’s just constant work. It’s constant work
to get around that. And from ’01 until 2010, what
a lot of individual targets, but also a lot of companies
in the industry would do, is they’d say, they’re
making this up. Because again, some of the
stuff that we see, it just defies common sense. I’m willing to explain
all that stuff at the end to explain, why do
you do this to animals you make money off of? You know you’re going
to get in trouble. You know there are
investigators out there. But it defies common sense. And so they would say,
you’re making this up. You doctored this video. You staged this. In 2010 was the turning point
when I worked at a calf ranch, and I saw some really
horrible stuff. And unlike a lot
of previous cases, law enforcement took the case. And they prosecuted the owner. And I believe it
was the National Beef Association came out. They had YouTube videos. The VP of the organization
came out and said, we can no longer say these
are isolated incidents. We now have to
recognize that we have a problem, a systemic problem. That was 2011. And so I think since then,
they still try to keep us out. But for me, that was big,
because that was recognition that when they’re trying to keep
us out, what we’re trying to do is, they’re not just trying
to protect their interests, they’re trying to
cover up the crimes. AUDIENCE 2: Oh, sorry. PETE: Oh, sorry. Did you have your hand up? AUDIENCE 2: I did. PETE: I’m so sorry. Go ahead. AUDIENCE 2: First
of all, I wanted to know if there is an agency
that we connect you with. What was the name of the– or did you already tell us that? PETE: I work for
various non-profits that are my clients. AUDIENCE 2: So as
far as a website– PETE: I have nothing. AUDIENCE 2: If we want to seek
out your help because we knew of places that we’d like
to see you look in to, we couldn’t do that? PETE: Well, if you’re here,
you can get my number. But normally you would contact
a group that I have worked for. AUDIENCE 2: You haven’t
told us who that is. PETE: I work for Animal
Protection Society– AUDIENCE 2: Oh, that. You did mention
those [INAUDIBLE].. PETE: Yeah, Animal Equality– AUDIENCE 2: Then
the other one is, people in the state of Illinois,
let’s say, they raise hogs. They milk dairy farms,
and they raise cattle for butchering and so on. Don’t they have teams
of regular inspectors that go in and check on
whether or not there is– PETE: [INAUDIBLE] yes. AUDIENCE 2: You
were talking about that there was rampant
cruelty in the industry, that when we go shopping
at the grocery store, we’re eating chickens
that have been abused. PETE: Absolutely. AUDIENCE 2: That’s what
you’re talking about. PETE: So there’s no inspectors– AUDIENCE 2: There’s
not enough going on. PETE: There’s no inspectors
at the facilities that raise the animals. Bull farm, hog farm,
[INAUDIBLE] farm– there’s no inspectors. There’s no one but
the animals there. They are going to try
to look at the animals, or they should, at
a slaughterhouse. I have worked at a lot
of slaughterhouses, and it’s just extremely
rare for one to get cited. And most of the time,
it’s for the reasons that I mentioned before. The inspector just doesn’t
want to cause problems at the slaughterhouse. What’s that? Oh yeah, [INAUDIBLE] a day. You get inspected
briefly, and that’s it. It’s not like they
shut you down. You have to have massive
routine violations for an undercover
employment-based case to reveal them to have
a place shut down. AUDIENCE 3: Thank you so much
for your work and your talk today. I’m interested in what you said
about the culture of cruelty that you’ve surmised in all
of your work experience. There’s also another
sort of culture that we think we have in
America, that we love animals. And I just wonder if you’ve
thought of how that squares, those two things. Those opposite things, right? Culture of cruelty what
you’re talking about, what you have covered,
and I mean just this– I think everybody thinks
that American [INAUDIBLE].. We all want animals. That’s another– how
does that square? PETE: So you know that
old saying everyone always has of if slaughterhouses
had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian? Everyone says that. That’s bullshit, because
people work in slaughterhouses. Communities work at
the slaughterhouses. They have rotating
doors of workers. Everyone goes in, goes to work,
comes out, and then eats meat. There is a lot to change. When I train investigators,
I will tell them that there’s some things I
have to prepare them for, that they’ll have to
mentally get ready for. But when you animal
abuse in our work, you get desensitized so quick. You’re stressed. You’re tired. Especially if you’re
in an undercover job, your adrenaline is up. So that changes how you think. But if you’re already
not vegetarian or vegan, you don’t have to worry. You’re just following the
flow of what people say and what people do. And as you get in
to the groove of it, you stop seeing them
as individual animals. That’s another truck. It’s not an animal. It’s a truck. How many trucks we got left? Are we done? OK, we’re done. And it’s easier to go along
with the group mentality than you would imagine. And so it is also pretty easy to
slaughter animals commercially, or hunt and kill animals,
and then go home, and then really love your dog. That does not make someone a bad
person or mean they’re warped. That’s a pretty easy thing
for most people to do. So I don’t think the effort is
in finding what makes anyone bad so that they do that. The effort is, how do we try to
make people, what we believe, is better by having more
empathy for [INAUDIBLE].. AUDIENCE 4: Thank you. You mentioned that almost
90% of the people working in these slaughterhouses
are either undocumented immigrants or
people with felony convictions. And I’m wondering if you have
any concerns about bringing criminal charges against
people who might already be one of the most vulnerable
people in our society who you mentioned are forced
to do this work because of lack of any sort of other
options and especially if those criminal
convictions against someone could result in
their deportation. PETE: Yeah, I do. But it’s a tough
situation, obviously, and one of the reasons that
I don’t flip out about it, is if it’s an ex-con,
a felon, and they’re going to get hit with a
misdemeanor cruelty charge, it’s not going to
tear them up too bad. That sucks. But it’s not going to
tear the up too bad. So saying, I don’t want a
cruelty charge to happen, and I just want to expose
this, [INAUDIBLE] of the law, and I don’t sleep
at night knowing I could have people that charge. Now, the illegal immigrant– to be honest, in my experience
they learn, and they never [? even followed. ?]
They take off and– I worked at a place in
Texas, and one guy told me he’s from Chicago,
the other from Miami, and they’re from Boston. What the hell are they doing
in Castro County, Texas? And when they arraigned
from that case, nobody followed them. I feel for them,
and that’s terrible. But the unfortunate
reality is that when it comes to cruelty of animals,
we have to make a choice. There might be two victims here. They’re a victim of the
system, and the animals are a victim of the system. But the animals are also
victims of their crimes. So do we let our empathy
for these individuals take over our urge to have
justice done for these animals? And I would say no. That’s why I’m a vegan, so I
just do away with the system. AUDIENCE 5: There was a
movie made by Linklater, I think his name is, and
it’s called Fast Food Nation. And it talked about
what the lives of the immigrants,
illegal, who worked at these horrible places. Their lives were so horrible. And sometimes they
really regret doing it. So it’s not a life you
want to protect, really. The other thing I
wanted to mention is that these horrible things
that people do to animals, it reminds me of the Nazis. Because people who
were Nazis and doing horrible, horrible things
to their fellow human beings who’d go home and
be good family men. So it’s something– I
mean, we are really mental. Human beings are crazy. PETE: Kind of. There was a big, giant– there’s an argument about this. And I have to say, I know
I’m on one side of it. I think insanity is the norm. I think that the average person,
anybody in this room, we’re just kind of waiting to get– hopefully we don’t go to
any point in our lives having to do it. But we’re all just waiting to
find what’s the lowest point? And when you get to
that lowest point, something’s going to break you. It takes enormous amount
of willpower to not give in, and it’s few
people that don’t. The most common
interrogation techniques are sleep derivation
and starvation. It breaks your will. It makes you susceptible
to suggestion. You’re hungry, and you’re
tired, and someone says, just kick the fucking cow,
and so you do it. That’s another [INAUDIBLE]
concern people have working undercover is, someone
tells you to do something, and you’re working undercover. Can you do it or not? Is that legal or not? How do you get away with this? How do you maintain your
cover but not break the law? You have to know it pretty well. You have to deal with the
situations as they comes. It’s tough. But for the average
person, I think that the average
person, we think about what it’s like to
be in a violent situation, and to see the violence, and to
have threatened violence on us, or have to engage in violence. And most of us know it
from movies and TV shows. But the way it happens
is completely different than you would think. Not only that,
it’s very different the moment after it happens than
a month later or a year later. You think about it
completely differently. But what is also
very different is that you have that
situation day, after day, after day, after day. Then you don’t even remember
how you were thinking about it the week or the month before. It’s just something
else entirely. AUDIENCE 5: Kind of deadens you. PETE: Absolutely. AUDIENCE 5: Just one
more quick thing. I forgot what it was. Yeah. Custom, you say, is a
really huge obstacle. Because people do like
it’s always been done, and they do what
they see others do. So if that seems like
the biggest obstacle, what would you suggest? PETE: OK, here’s
what I would say. I understand for the
[INAUDIBLE] who maybe– nobody wants them to have
charge wrong, I get it. And nobody wants for some of
my kids at the [INAUDIBLE] I work at, or our local
community that thrives solely on the business of this
one slaughterhouse, nobody wants to
see them get hurt. I don’t want to say that there’s
got to be collateral damage. But I think the
best way I can put this is that, the truth is the
truth and it doesn’t matter. The consequences of the truth
don’t change what that is. We either are going to know
what’s happening or not. So we either recognize what’s
happening to these animals and who is
responsible, or we are too uncomfortable with that,
and we don’t want to know. We all heard people say, my
grandparents and their parents had animals on their farm,
and they never did bullshit. I’m calling bullshit. It’s just they didn’t have
[? recorder ?] cameras back then. There was no YouTube. That’s it. That’s the only difference. Right now, we are able to
get cameras in to every place and see what’s going on. You either choose to show
it, or see it, or not. Yes, sir. AUDIENCE 6: OK. Is there much of
an issue of whether the industry that you’re
monitoring or sending people into ops like this to– [INAUDIBLE] PETE: Yeah. There definitely is when– I would obviously have
a problem if they were. They know who I am so not
really too much of a concern. Again, all they have
to do is see the truth. Yes. Sorry. AUDIENCE 7: Thank you so
much for the presentation, for doing what you do. I have two questions. My first question is, what about
malpractices and violations in a laboratory
setting, where people do experiments on [INAUDIBLE]
organisms like zebra fish or mice? And second sort of
unrelated question is, when it comes to what’s
being sold in grocery stores, are there sort of
labels, or tags, that can maybe
mark that something has been handled ethically? PETE: I’ve never
worked in a lab, but I know that there’s an
enormous amount of exemptions to cruelty charge or
to cruelty statute. So if you believe that
you have to cause pain to get your experiment
done, you can do all kinds of terrible
things, physically, psychologically to animals. There’s also an enormous
amount of animals that are exempt from the Animal
Welfare Act in the first place. Fish and mice, no one is going
to force [INAUDIBLE] for that. But as far as labels, yeah. None of them mean anything. So the big one that
I’m all upset about is the anti-biotic free thing. I do understand why
that’s a health concern. But from someone who has
worked at a lot of farms, anti-biotic free means
no veterinary care. That’s it. Because you have an
average chicken barn. You’ve got 24,000 birds in it. Your average battery cage,
egg barn, 100,000 birds, 30,000 if it’s cage-free. And you got some sick ones? You have to [? clip ?]
the medicine to the feed, and it has to go to all of them. So you either treat
them when they’re sick, or you let them suffer. That’s it. And if it’s pork, if
you were raising a hog, you go to slaughter, it
doesn’t mean a slaughterhouse. The hog shows up. It’s slaughtered. It’s not like they’re
waiting there like, are we going to check
[INAUDIBLE] at a hog farm? And again they’re going
to say, well shit, if I’m anti-biotic
free, there’s nothing I can do for this animal’s wound. I’m just going to let him
suffer, till he goes to market. AUDIENCE 8: Could
you talk a little about the Humane Slaughter Act,
do we enforce them with that? Is that from the USDA as well? PETE: That’s
something different. But the Humane
Slaughter Act is– it’s rarely enforced,
in my experience. There’s specific rules, but
the only time I’ve really seen it enforced is if you’re– well, I’m sorry. It is enforced, but there’s
going to a slight suspension, like a day suspension
or a little fine. But the only time I’ve ever
seen it heavily enforced is if there’s downed,
hooves-up cattle and people are abusing [? them. ?] It’s
a violation of the Humane Slaughter Act. But the reason people
jump on that is they’re afraid there could
be mad cow disease. And that’s why they’re down. That’s why things
get shut down longer. AUDIENCE 8: And who is the
enforcement agency for that? PETE: That is– who handles– PRESENTER 2: FSIS and– PETE: Oh yeah. [INAUDIBLE] Food and Safety
and Inspection Service. AUDIENCE 8: So if
hypothetically, we had evidence of a violation
of the Humane Slaughter Act in Massachusetts, what
would your suggestion be to take that evidence to? PETE: FSIS does–
they enforce it. I mean, they will. But you can report it. My limited experience with
them is they’re professional. They’ll do their job, and you
can go online and see places that they hit for inhumane
treatment and slaughter. I think they would
take it seriously. But what I would say is, I would
try to contact an animal rights groups to determine if
you could try to go, and if you had a
reason to believe there is a violation, to try
and get undercover footage. But do not try to
wait a long time on that to try to get
it just because someone is waiting to get footage. It is better to
call the authorities and have them try to
do something with it than to just sit on it,
hoping to get the footage. If your concern is, ah, then I
missed my chance, well, good. Because then maybe they’re not
going to abuse animals again. But from my experience,
they’re always going to. You can even go ahead and do
[INAUDIBLE] case [INAUDIBLE].. AUDIENCE 9: [INAUDIBLE]
because if it is a violation, the MSPCA might also get a
violation of the [INAUDIBLE] code. And here in Massachusetts, MSPCA
does have enforcement powers to investigate [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE 8: [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE 9: But chances
are, law enforcement might be more responsive if
it’s coming from an organization first, so I would try the
organizations first, get their opinion, if they
don’t do anything, go on to law enforcement. AUDIENCE 10: I was
wondering, in your work, you said it’s not
uncommon for workers to engage in acts
of animal cruelty because they were
asked to, essentially, by their employers. Were you ever asked to engage
in an act of animal cruelty, and how would you respond? PETE: Differently in a
lot of different times. I know a couple of
times I didn’t have to do anything when it was– once, at a dairy
I was at, people kept telling me to punch
and kick the down cows, and I wouldn’t, so
he’d get very upset. Because I’d always–
I’d rush over when there was a down cow,
because I’m trying to film it, and I’m just not doing anything. [LAUGHTER] They got upset, and
they told me to leave. So the next time it
happened, I noticed [INAUDIBLE] it was down. Again, it’s dealing with the
situation as it is [INAUDIBLE].. You have to keep
your eyes there. They would often stuck
between milking stalls, and they’d fall, and couldn’t
get up on the way out. And everyone was always
beating them in the face, and twisting the tails,
twisting a down calf’s tail down till it breaks,
that was a common thing. And so I ran out, and
they had these big gates that are next to them. Normally two people
would lift them. I just ran up, and
I lifted by myself. And then cow got up. So it was like,
show of machismo, and that they were
happy with me, and they never told me
to leave again, even though I wasn’t punishing them. And another incidence is
that, what people were doing, is they were very upset at me
for not punching and kicking the cows. I kept saying, no, no, it’s
going to make things worse. They didn’t want to
hear that from me. And they were cutting– anywhere else, you couldn’t cut
tails off calves [INAUDIBLE],, which by the way, the
dairy industry says that’s because the tails
will get manure on them and that manure could
then cause an infection, a vaginal infection. It’s not the reason. You know the reason whenever
you work at a dairy, and you’re milking
the cow, and that tail falls into shit trough, and
it nails you in the face. That’s the reason. No matter how much
you love animals, you’ll be pissed at the
moment that happens. But what they were doing is
they were cutting all the tails off the fully-grown cows. [INAUDIBLE] They took guard
sheers to knock it off, and so they got pissed at me
for not punching and kicking animals to move them. They said, all right,
Pete, tomorrow– I already filmed it. And I would take a
rubber band and put them on the severed
nubs of the tails, but I refused to cut them off. And they said, all right,
Pete, tomorrow you’re going to cut off all the
tails off of every cow that’s left here. And that’s when I contacted
the NGO I was working for, and I said guys,
we’re going to the DA. We’re done. Whereas, on my first
case, it was different. It was a place selling dogs
and cats to research labs, and we were going after–
there was a lot of abuse, but they were committing federal
fraud was the main crime. We knew they were having
a vet pre-sign veterinary certificates for the dogs
to go across state lines to be sold to labs. We just had a reason to do that. But I was undercover so I could
get access to their office. It took months. But I could gain
access to their office and find these pre-signed
veterinary forms. So while I was
reporting directly– I was meeting with the
US attorney’s office. And they just wanted me to stay
undercover as long as it took. And one day, one of
the things we had to do was they decided to
dip all these dogs and dip them into a
giant vat of insecticide, and it was below
freezing temperatures. So the dogs would get
dumped in, and they had ropes around their
necks as leashes, and then they would
go in shock, and they would get dragged out and thrown
out on the ice in their pens. And I had to do it with them. And the federal
prosecutor never told me, you’re exempt from
the cruelty statute, or we’re not bringing
charges, or we are, they just took the evidence
and didn’t say anything. But now I don’t think
and NGO would anyone to do anything like that. AUDIENCE 11: Have
you ever been in fear for your own personal
safety doing this work? PETE: That’s [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE 11: I don’t mean from
the animals, I mean from the– PETE: Yeah, on fishing
boats, there’s this one boat. One of them was fine, but one of
them every time a dead dolphin came up, they told
me that if I’m a cop, they’re going to drown me. They’re like, we’re going to
tie this thing [INAUDIBLE],, and you’re going to– I’ve had a guy attack
me with a shovel, and I’ve had three other
guys from a puppy mill. They realized I was going
[INAUDIBLE] different targets in their area. And they saw me pull over
on the side of the road, and they ran over and
tried to get into my car and steal my keys. And I’ve had people just
get pissed off at work. But we train for that. [INAUDIBLE] created
a training for that. There’s different ways to
deal with different types of interrogations. I’ve had people suspect
me of something, and then when they
accuse me of it, I have to calm them
down and then determine, if I’m working there, can I
calm them down and win them over so they’ll let this go? Or if it’s a long one
like a puppy mill, can I calm them down
so I can get to my car, and get the fuck out? AUDIENCE 12: I just wanted
to, 24-hour cruelty reporting, [INAUDIBLE] just to clarify
that it’s basically just to sort of force
the investigation out of themselves,
[INAUDIBLE] DEA agent who spends months infiltrating
a drug distribution ring. It’s like forcing them
to reveal themselves as long as you [INAUDIBLE]. You’re never going to
get to the importers if that’s what you
are coursed to do. AUDIENCE 13: So thank you
for everything you do. I volunteer at a
farm sanctuary, one that rescues hundreds of
animals from slaughterhouses. So I haven’t seen
your side of it. I’ve seen more like
[INAUDIBLE] of it. But to my experience,
I’ve seen a lot of cows especially, when literally
decades later are still showing signs of losing their
calves that have been taken away from them, dairy cows. And you talked about
psychological well-being. So have you any
experience with having to separate a mother pig and her
piglets or anything like that? And how the animals
react to that? PETE: We separate
pigs from sows. The sows get very upset,
they will slam themselves against the bars of their crate
try to bite you and get to you. They get very visibly upset. Taking the calves
away from the cows, they’ll always try to follow. They’ll pull against
a [? leash ?] if they’re chained to something
or try to get out of their pen or visibly upset. To me, one of the
most touching things was I was working
at an egg farm. And I was in the
manure pit below it, so I was down in the
manure pit, showing how many live chickens
would have fallen in there and are living in this pit. It was [INAUDIBLE] chickens. And so you could see on the– I had to use a flashlight. It was kind of grainy,
undercover footage. We were following, and as the
flock is moving away from me while I’m trying to film them,
you see these two chickens off to the side. They were sleeping. They had their heads in them. And this one hen stops,
and she looks at me. And she looks at them. She’s like six feet from them. And as I approach, she
bolts off, and nails them. And when they all wake up,
they look at me and take off. And to me, I really felt
that what that meant was that, they’re moving
away from me because they identified me as a threat. And she thought, I’m
going to risk myself, and I’m going to
go wake them up. And that was very
touching to me. AUDIENCE 14: I don’t
know whether this is a good question,
but I had heard that in Yugoslavia in
order to teach people how to kill humans, they forced
them to slaughter pigs first. Do you feel as if these
slaughterhouses will make people become more brutal? What is their
[? incident ?] like. Do they volunteer for
the military more? I mean, personally, I
feel as if it not only influences the
individual doing it, the person eating it as well. It’s translated into that. There is a whole cultural norm. And I agree with you. I haven’t thought of it in terms
of people getting [INAUDIBLE],, because I used to cut
up a chicken every day for Sunday dinner before
I became a vegetarian. And now it is so unthinkable. And the second question I had
was, the Pennsylvania Dutch, I heard at one point that
even they abuse their animals. Have you heard of
religious groups that do that sort of thing? PETE: The Amish, Pennsylvania
Dutch, the Amish, they’re the most notorious
puppy killers there are. A vast part of my puppy mill
career has been going to Amish. I was just at a few Amish puppy
mills in Wisconsin last year. For them, and they kind of
illustrate a [? coin. ?] They have horrible puppy mills. They were terrible. But the way they see it is that
working with the earth, that includes animals is godly. Working in the dirt or
manure, that is godly. So it doesn’t say
[INAUDIBLE] we’re supposed to treat dogs
well, but you’re supposed to work with the earth. And they’re people. They’re susceptible to
greed like anyone else. So they get a lot of profit
off of these animals. But they will just treat
these dogs like hell, but then they’ll be very,
very kind to other people. So for the rest of
your question, overall I would say no. I think obviously it’s
easier to really want to commit an act of
violence if you were used to doing it to animals. But I have not
personally felt that just because someone is engaging
in violence against animals that I always feel that
there’s a heightened threat of violence against me. It’s usually something
else about that individual. Some of my best friends hunt
and butcher their own animals. I disagree with it,
but I would never fear that they would
want to hurt me, or that they would
ever hurt their pets. Again, I think that’s
part of their culture is respecting one and not
necessarily the other. AUDIENCE 14: One, they’re doing
it for their own consumption like indigenous people. It grosses me out to see
it, but at least it’s either starvation or doing. And maybe I don’t want
to watch it necessarily, but I don’t know, a culture
that does this to me is just, it is just so– PETE: We have to
understand it, and to me, that’s very important is to say
that we cannot judge an entire group of people. If they’re farmers, they’re
slaughterhouse workers, or whatever they are, because
they grew up differently. They see things differently. It doesn’t mean
they can’t change, and it doesn’t mean that
they’re otherwise bad people. If someone works at a factory
farm or slaughterhouse, it does not mean
they’re a bad person. If someone has engaged
in animal cruelty, it doesn’t mean they’re
otherwise a bad person or they can’t change. And I think that the more
we start to recognize that, and the more we try to
empathize with them, it will be easier for us
to get them to [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE 15: Hi, thank you
so much for being here today. I know you mentioned
that you’ve done a lot of international
work, and I was wondering what are
some of the biggest barriers about working
in other countries? PETE: The biggest barriers– for me, outside the
US [? is only ?] Canada, India, Brazil,
Mexico, and Philippines. But the biggest barriers were
probably law enforcement. I run into a lot
of problems with LE over here in the United
States, but I have to say, it’s just getting
them to do something else outside the US is
much more difficult. Doing investigations I
found to be much easier. Accessing factory farms
and slaughterhouses in other countries,
I can’t believe I can walk right in some places,
or talk my way in to them, where in the US it’s different. But I would say it’s just a
total lack of cruelty laws or the enforcement of
them is the biggest thing, big cultural difference
to overcome in some instances. AUDIENCE 16: Hi, first, by
the way, thanks for your time, for your work. I just wanted to know if you
could talk a little bit more about how you first found
yourself in undercover work and what inspired you to
really pursue this as a career. PETE: I wanted to go
in to law enforcement. So I wanted to become a cop. And after a cop, I wanted
to be an FBI agent, and once I’m in the FBI– this was my plan when I was
a teenager, young adult. OK, once I’m in the FBI, I’m
going to join the FBI SWAT team because that’s cool. Then I’m going to join the
Serial Killer Child Abduction Unit, because I was looking at
the different units of the FBI, and I thought, that is the
most evil thing I can imagine, what I was learning about,
what serial killers do. And at the same time
that I was studying that, I was learning that that unit,
the behavioral science unit, it was getting flooded
with people, just enormous, so many people
that they obviously couldn’t have hired them all. I also became
vegetarian and vegan at that same time I
was making this plan. And so I was learning
about animal rights issues, and what I learned is
that of the worst things I’ve ever read about
serial killers doing, similar or identical
things happened to animals but on a mass scale. And that there’s a handful
of civilian [INAUDIBLE] investigators in the country
doing anything about it. So I decided that’s
where I’m more needed, and I’ll combine
those two passions. AUDIENCE 17: Hi, I wanted
to thank you for your work and for coming to speak to us. So from my experiences, I’ve
seen more and more people shifting their
diets, because they know that farming has
such a negative impact on the environment
and contributes so heavily to greenhouse
gases, climate change. And so I’m wondering if you
see any sort of opportunity for cities and states to impose
any sort of new regulations on farming or animal welfare
through their work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Is there any way
to tie those two? PETE: Sorry, wrong guy. Anyone else wants to– [LAUGHTER] PRESENTER 3: California has
thought about doing something. A lot of universities, in
fact the business school here at Harvard, is engaging
in a pilot program run by a group called Farm Forward. It’s called a leadership
circle where they’re developing sustainability standards. And as part of the
sustainability standards, they include an assessment
of the impact of meat and where they source
that meat, and just the overall meat consumption. So it certainly is– and
there’s a huge [INAUDIBLE] which just came out
that a big focus of that was recommending reducing
meat consumption, primarily for environmental reasons. Any other questions? PETE: [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE 18: What
was your slogan in terms of what we can
do, either as law students or private individuals? You mentioned, for
example, Massachusetts requires all consent
for audio recording. Would you recommend that
[INAUDIBLE] that be changed? PETE: Yeah. [INTERPOSING VOICES] It’s hard to say. Massachusetts also has some
of the best laws protecting animals in [INAUDIBLE]. It’s not like I see a
plethora of targets I have to work here and get audio on. AUDIENCE 18: OK, [INAUDIBLE]. And I had not thought
about the antibiotic. Well, I had heard farmers
say to have antibiotic free, I’m going to treat my animals. On the labels,
though, it’s kind of hard to say, no
antibiotic except when an animal needs treatment. That’s kind of long for a label. PETE: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE 18: And the
last thing I wanted ask is about you investigators. Mercy for Animals was fund
raising for [? therapy ?] for the undercover agents. And I do not think that
that’s [? amusing. ?] I should imagine that it’s very,
very difficult for you all. Could you speak to them? PETE: Yeah, it’s difficult.
It’s a great question. I don’t know
exactly what to say. But it is difficult
doing [INAUDIBLE] work. And I think the main
thing is that it helps if you have a certain
type of personality for it. No one is immune to
the effects of it. But I feel very strongly that it
helps if, when you go into it, you enjoy risk-taking, and you
have a love for investigations over animal protection. For me personally,
I am 49% driven by an urge to help the animals. I am 51% driven by a
love of investigations.

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