An undercover investigator, Taylor Radig, put herself at significant personal risk in order to expose animal cruelty at the Quanah Cattle Company, a calf-raising facility in Kersey, Colorado. The investigator filmed appalling images of young calves being kicked, dragged, thrown, and slammed as employees removed them from trucks. Several positive outcomes came in the investigation’s aftermath: the company under investigation fired the three employees filmed abusing animals, the same employees are being charged with the Class 1 Misdemeanor of Animal Cruelty, and the public got a look into the tragic lives of unwanted male calves born into the dairy industry.
Such victories were overshadowed, however, when the Weld County Sheriff’s Office cited the undercover investigator herself for animal cruelty. According to the sheriff’s office, Radig failed to report the animal abuse “in a timely manner.” The sheriff’s office argued that this constituted negligence under Colorado’s animal cruelty statute—despite the clear indication that the abuse likely would have continued unchecked if not for the work of this individual.
Fortunately—after much public outcry—the Weld County District Attorney dropped the animal cruelty charge against Radig. The district attorney’s office issued a press release, stating that “the charges can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore those charges have been dismissed.” Whether or not the Weld County Sheriff’s initial actions against the investigator were motivated by antagonism toward such exposés, that is certainly the motivation behind “ag-gag” bills popping up in state legislatures around the country. In 2013, 15 such bills were introduced in 11 states (none passed). Three states did pass ag-gag legislation in 2011 and 2012. This, despite the fact that undercover investigations have led to meat recalls several times—including the largest recall in US history in 2008 (See Hallmark/Westland Settlement: A Win for Animals).