What is the Humane Society of the United States’ Investigations Team?

Animal exploitation exists across the food, fashion, entertainment, commercial trade, pet and science industries, the truth of which is often disguised and/or presented as a necessary evil. Sometimes, the only way to obtain the truth is by going undercover. That’s where our Investigations Team comes in. Through months of photos, videos and meticulous notes, our highly trained undercover investigators document abusive practices so that they can’t be ignored by the public and lawmakers. Our evidence helps to raise awareness, strengthen laws, change policies and spur prosecutions.

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What do you investigate?

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How often do your investigations result in successful outcomes?

Investigations include a wide range of information-collecting techniques, from documenting where supermarkets source their products to working undercover at laboratories. However, our job is not to seek abuse, but to document the truth. A case is not “successful” because abuse was found, but because we have collected accurate information.

Sadly, if a business is financially dependent on an animal, inhumane treatment is almost always occurring. Our information has led to justice for animals on many occasions, including:

Chelsea Kennel Club, 2017: After our investigation, the Brooklyn Attorney General’s office filed a complaint against the store’s owner. The store shut down after accruing $3.9 million in fines.

Catelli Brothers, Inc. slaughter plant, 2014: The USDA shut down the slaughterhouse after our video showed egregious violations of federal humane handling requirements.

Tennessee Walking Horse investigation, 2012: Our evidence led to a 52-count federal inditement against one of the most notorious Tennessee Walking Horse trainers, Jackie McConnell​.

Bushway Packing slaughter plant, 2009: We documented a corrupt state inspection process and inhumane handling. The plant was closed by state and federal authorities and a worker was convicted of criminal animal cruelty.

New Iberia Research Center, 2008: Our 9-month investigation led to charges filed against NIRC for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. It also helped lead to the retirement of all government-owned chimps after we drafted a legal petition, finalized in 2015, to declare captive chimpanzees endangered (rather than threatened).

Hallmark Meat Company, 2008: After we documented downed cows being dragged to slaughter and their meat being sold to the national school lunch program, the plant immediately shut down, and FSIS forced the company to recall an astonishing 143 million pounds of meat, the largest beef recall in U.S. history.​ The investigation prompted California to pass a new anti-downer law, and the case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court and led to a new federal regulation that banned the slaughter of downer cattle​. It was one of the most successful factory farming cases in our nation’s history.​

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What’s it like to be an undercover investigator?

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How can I become an investigator?

Email us to learn more.

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How can I report cruelty?

Report cruelty to your local law enforcement and/or local animal control. If needed, law enforcement agencies across the country will call on us to aid with the investigation and prosecution of animal abuse. If your area lacks the proper animal welfare agency and your local authorities are not equipped to deal with animal cruelty cases, you can also contact our Animal Rescue Team.

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I work in law enforcement. How can I get help with an animal cruelty case?

If you currently work as a law enforcement officer, animal control officer or humane law enforcement officer, you can contact us for assistance with animal cruelty cases.

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What if I bought a sick puppy from a pet store?

Take your puppy to a veterinarian as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. Save all records and receipts. Then, report your situation to us by submitting a puppy buyer complaint.

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