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July 29, 2010

New Evidence Shows Animal Torture Videos Remain Available Online

U.S. Senate urged to pass H.R. 5566 to crack down on animal ‘crush’ videos

black kitten

iStockphoto

WASHINGTON — New information released today shows that videos depicting extreme forms of animal cruelty remain available online.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, along with key members of Congress, are urging the U.S. Senate to quickly pass legislation to ban interstate and foreign commerce in these obscene animal "crush" videos. The animal torture videos show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling of puppies, kittens and other live animals for the titillation of viewers.

"The recent discovery of dozens of videos depicting this extreme form of cruelty lends even more urgency to the need for the U.S. Senate to pass a ban on crush videos before leaving town for the August recess," said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5566 last week by a vote of 416-3. Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., are leading a bipartisan push for Senate action.

The HSUS recently received a tip from a Russian investigator, who identified through online forums numerous crush videos readily available for purchase. The videos are sold through download links for about $80, payable through PayPal or Western Union. His investigation found dozens of video clips showing young girls and women maiming and killing animals including dogs, goats, monkeys, rabbits and pigs.

An HSUS researcher viewed 36 preview clips that are offered to potential customers. The videos depict horrifying forms of animal cruelty, including:

  • A smiling girl in stilettos pokes her sharp heel through a live dog's eye socket. The dog's front legs are tied behind his back and his mouth is tied shut, but he screams and screams in horrendous pain as the girl relentlessly stabs her heel through his eye socket. At one point, her heel goes all the way in and makes a cracking sound, but the dog is still alive and screaming.
  • Three young girls crush a puppy to death with their bare feet. The audio includes cracking sounds as the puppy's bones break. Three dead puppies can be seen lying on the floor nearby.
  • A girl dressed in a leather mini-skirt and stiletto heels pokes the heel of her shoe through the eye of a small monkey.
  • A girl wearing a flimsy negligee, stockings and stiletto heels crushes a rabbit, who screams as his hind legs are crushed.
  • A girl skins a live dog with a knife, removing the animal's ear and the skin and fur on the dog's head.

Links to these preview clips are available to media on request.

U.S. Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., the co-authors of H.R. 5566, the Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010, joined Pacelle in calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the new crush video ban quickly.

"Time in this Congress is rapidly running out and it is vital that my colleagues in the Senate move quickly to pass this bill," said Rep. Gallegly. "The deliberate torture of small animals is not just a concern because of the animal cruelty involved, but because studies have shown that there is a link between animal cruelty and violence against humans. We need a federal law as soon as possible to once again stop these disgusting videos."

Rep. Peters said, "These animal torture videos are heinous and barbaric and we're going to stop them once and for all. These videos illustrate once again just how disturbing animal torture is. The people who engage in this behavior shouldn't be profiting from it, they should be in prison. The bill Mr. Gallegly and I have drafted addresses the Supreme Court's concerns so that we can once again outlaw these deplorable videos. I am grateful to The Humane Society of the United States for their efforts and to Mr. Gallegly for working with me in a bipartisan way on this issue. I hope a bipartisan majority in the Senate acts quickly so we can once again outlaw these abhorrent videos."

Timeline:

1999 – HSUS investigation uncovers approximately 3,000 horrific animal crush videos available in the marketplace, selling for up to $300 apiece.

December 1999 – President Bill Clinton signs into law the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, banning the creation, sale and possession for interstate or foreign commerce of depictions of illegal and intentional maiming, mutilating, torture, wounding or killing of a living animal. The market for crush videos disappears soon after enactment.

July 2008 – A federal appellate court declares the law unconstitutional.

December 2008 – The U.S. Solicitor General files a petition for certiorari requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court review and overturn the appellate court's decision.

June 2009 – Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and The HSUS, joined by half of the country's state attorneys general, file amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the crush video ban.

September 2009 – The HSUS releases an investigation documenting the recent resurgence in horrific animal crush videos.

April 20, 2010 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in United States v. Stevens that the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act is "overbroad" and might capture depictions protected by the First Amendment. The Court acknowledges the long history of animal protection laws in the United States and leaves open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law aimed at extreme animal cruelty.

April 21, 2010 – Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., James Moran, D-Va., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and more than 50 other representatives introduce H.R. 5092 to end the intentional crushing, burning, drowning and impaling of puppies, kittens and other animals for the purpose of peddling videos of such extreme acts of animal cruelty.

May 18, 2010 – Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduces H.R. 5337 to end the sale and distribution of depictions of extreme animal cruelty.

May 26, 2010 – The House Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee holds a hearing and receives expert testimony from constitutional scholars and practitioners, as well as Reps. Gallegly and Peters, on the meaning of the Supreme Court's opinion in the Stevens case and its implications for future legislation on crush videos.

June 22, 2010 – Reps. Gallegly and Peters and 220 other representatives introduce H.R. 5566, reflecting insights from the May 26 hearing and extensive bipartisan deliberations to fine-tune the earlier legislation.

June 23, 2010 – The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approves H.R. 5566 by a 23-0 vote.

July 21, 2010 – U.S. House of Representatives approves H.R. 5566 (which now has 262 cosponsors) by a 416-3 vote.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at
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