By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A bill at the Capitol would make it illegal to go undercover and investigate puppy mills. Animal rights activists say the bill, which has been introduced in the House and Senate, would protect animal abuse and take away freedom of speech.

But supporters of the bill say it protects property and allows the proper authorities to handle animal abuse situations.

Howard Goldman of the Humane Society of the United States says this bill does the opposite of what his organization is trying to accomplish.

The bill would not only make it illegal to do undercover investigations at puppy mills and livestock operations but it would also make it illegal to distribute the video to the media.

Goldman believes that is a freedom of speech violation.

“If we don’t speak for the animals, no one else will. How would we know what goes on in many of these facilities unless we have whistle-blowing? This could be free speech violation,” said Goldman.

State Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, introduced the bill in the Senate. As chair of the agriculture and rural economies committee, he said undercover investigating at pork producing plants and livestock facilities can cause contamination and food safety issues.

As far as puppy mills go, he said there are others more qualified to deal with animal abuse.

“They don’t have to lie about a job, lie about their intentions and go undercover. They can go to the Board of Animal Health, the state veterinarians … and go in and look at this facility. That’s their job and that’s what they are paid for,” said Magnus.

But animal rights supporters say without going undercover, Minnesota dog breeder Kathy Bauck never would have been charged with animal cruelty. Nor, they say, would they have been able to expose abuse at a poultry plant in Willmar.

“They tossed sick and injured animals onto the floor. And who speaks up for the animals? How would we have known about this if an undercover investigator had not been present? That’s what needs to be known,” said Goldman.

State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, who introduced the bill in the house, said that cases of dog breeders abusing animals are actually rare. He said because of undercover cameras, the videos you see give all dog breeders a bad name.

If the legislation passes, it could end up being a felony to go undercover in some cases. Iowa, Florida and Idaho are considering similar legislation as well.

John Lauritsen

Comments (45)
  1. Mads says:

    I think that we should do anything possible to stop puppy mills. If going undercover and taking video is what has been working then more power to it. I hope the bill doesn’t pass. I don’t want any more idiots out there than there already are mistreating animals.

  2. Bonnie says:

    How does an undercover investigation create contamination and food safety issues, as State Senator Doug Magnus? State Rep. Rod Hamilton, stated that animal abuse is rare. It is not rare enough as far as I’m concerned; it should not exist. I hope that this bill does not pass and if our legislators polled their constituents, I’m sure the majority would not want this bill passed. It must be big money backing this bill and I think it’s appalling.

    1. rak says:

      Agreed! This guy is seriously misinformed if he thinks animal abuse is rare.

      1. Rusty Shackelford says:

        It is not rare rak, but it is mainly an urban problem. But you little anarchists view the act of killing an animal cruelty and will do anything to further your agenda.

  3. Kyle says:

    I wonder if this was a republican sponsored billl? Anything to protect the company right? Stupid.

  4. carla says:

    This makes no sense at all. Someone is getting paid big bucks to put this kind of bill on the table. Kyle, this is a Rep. sponsored bill. Something smells like doo doo here

    1. carla says:

      haha, that’s the best you can come up with? haha

      1. Rusty Shackelford says:

        What I mean is you “animal lovers” are really only selfish weasels who think only your pets are treated humanely.

  5. Sam says:

    This isn’t a matter of avoiding contamination. That’s a smokescreen. If the food processing plant isn’t providing sanitation instruction and equipment to visitors, then the plant is already contaminated. If it is, then these people won’t contaminate it.
    Sen Magnus is acting solely in the interest of these businesses, to make it harder for the public to find out about conditions in which the animals are kept.

    1. Sam says:

      Oh, if that’s the case, then I’m obviously wrong.
      Certainly someone who claims to be smart doesn’t need to support his argument in any way.

      1. Rusty Shackelford says:

        I know, that is what you liberals are hopin’ for Sam. No more.

        1. Sam says:

          Sorry, Rusty. That was sarcasm.
          What I meant to say was, if your opinion is opposite of mine, please explain why. Simply claiming that you’re right and I’m wrong and (erroneously) labeling me a liberal does not prove your argument.

  6. Rusty Shackelford says:

    Farmers, business owners, home owners, meat eaters, vehicle drivers, smokers, hunters, christians, family values, these are just a few things that the Liberals and people against this bill, are also against. But we are the amoral ones?
    Remember this when you vote Minnesota, so we don’t have to complain anymore.

    1. Sam says:

      Rusty, could you explain to me how this bill negatively impacts home owners, meat eaters, vehicle drivers, smokers, hunters, Christians, or family values? In particular, I’d like to know about the last one, since the values both my family and my church taught me were to respect and care for the creatures God put on this Earth.
      Also, as a meat eater, I prefer not to eat meat that has been horribly mistreated, in part due to the above values, and in part due to food safety issues that arise in these types of facilities.

      1. Rusty Shackelford says:

        I’ll put it to you like this, IF I owned a home with a farm on it and caught someone on my property sneaking around and recording film? Family values would definitely come into play, bill or no bill.

        1. Citizen says:

          Rusty, the people doing the filming are undercover but are EMPLOYEES of the operation–whatever it is. This bill is seeking to prohibit freedom of speech which is constitutionally protected. It will prosecute employees who take pictures or dissemination information about the operation. Sounds like a totalitarian state’s persecution, if you ask me.

        2. Ignorance must be bliss says:

          After the last few posts that you have here I do not think you should be able to say “I am a pretty smart guy” as you sure do not come out that why with the stupidity that you have post. Other than the fact of calling yourself smart is just as useless and pathetic as giving yourself a nickname, how the he!! do you know anyone is a liberal unless they say so? You do realize that there are more than just repubs and liberals don’t you? I would hope so smart guy, but in all the posts I have ever seen you put on any story you only have the view of – there is me, and there are liberals and then spew out a bunch of BS as you know what you are talking about. The problem with blogging is that people like you use it just because it is 100% anonymous and you never have a rebuttal or anyone that can look you in the eye when you say the ignorant, stupid, moronic ideas that you post each and every day. Sad to think that you think you are smart though, this must be the public education system coming back to haunt the public.
          Bottom line, if the animals are being used for food, they give their lives for us and should be treat with respect. If they are meant for pets, the same should still apply. Living things should not have to suffer PERIOD and this bill may cause a lot more of that. If you cannot see this than please stop calling yourself human let alone a smart 1.

        3. MARK says:

          Internet tough guy right here. Watch out folks.

          1. Ignorance must be bliss says:

            You are correct because tough guys often use intellect to try to solve a problem. I have never seen a tough guy ever threaten violence like I did in my post, so you have every reason to make that assumption. You do know that everyone else on this site understands that you can change your post name from Rusty to MARK any time you want right?

  7. Jodell Clark says:

    This completely reeks. If you look under Rod Hamilton’s information, you see what is occupation is. Pork producer!! You know dang well he’s working this for his benefit. Puppy mills should be banned along with stricter laws on domesticated animal treatment but also, when he says that this gives “all puppy mills a bad name”. No it doesn’t. it just makes the public more aware and also more willing to investigate a place they might buy an animal from. This is for the public good but neither of these jokers are working for the public here. They are working for themselves.

    1. Rusty Shackelford says:

      What about you liberals and your species purity rituals on those sickening dog shows? Tell us, who does PETA sponsor? You create your false utopia here on earth because you liberals lack faith or hope. You are not gods, only underpaid weasels.
      Do you want someone from Peta to tell the story? Farmers are NOT crooks, nice try though.

  8. Rusty Shackelford says:

    They are crooks people, FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER and let’s say NO to socialism and Liberal American Terrorism.

  9. Jim Schwebel says:

    Acting lesson the suffering od domestic livestock is a noble goal.Getting into thre factory farms abd slaughter houses is essential to get the truth to the public.It is not to much to ask that we humanely treat the animals we will kill for our consumption

    1. Rusty Shackelford says:

      YOU, YOU, YOU, I create products as well, WHY FARM ANIMALS JIM S?
      You know why, we just want you to admit it, YOU don’t eat meat, so we are your enemies, right?

  10. joe says:

    some people are more worried about animals rights then human rights. that what upsets me. animals seem to have more rights the humans and thats wrong!!

  11. Jim Schwebel says:

    Sorry Rusty. I love a good steak, but prefer it from a humanely raised animal..The vast majority of farmers I know share the same view.

    1. Rusty Shackelford says:

      Same here, what is your point Jim?
      Hey I have a great idea: Take a Liberal hunting day. That is as humane as it gets. Oh wait, you hate that too you liar.
      Don’t get me started on my experience with liberal activists while my buddies and I were trying to hunt.

      1. Ignorance must be bliss says:

        Nobody is trying to get the peanut gallery started on anything. In fact if you read the posts it is the exact opposite, they are trying to get you to shut up as you are a moron and have more than projected yourself as such. You sound like a freaking nut job that is trying to get everyone to put on their nike’s, drink the punch and wait for the comet to come pick you up. Start your little cult somewhere else and let the mentally stable bloggers use the non-fictional site please.
        It is better to be thought of as an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Please think about it.

  12. sheryl says:

    What a bunch of Creepy people that have Puppy mills. These mills should be outlawed period! It just makes me want to PUK to even see this on TV. Why in the name of creation do these people think that it is ok and that these animals are treated well. It always ends up not good. You can see the two dogs need hair cuts. These humans that think they are running a business are just to lazy to go out and find a real source of income. I am embarrassed to even think that i am of the same race as r h. Hopefully the individuals that elected him has since figured out that they made a huge mistake. But I guess that is the thinks of someone from out state MN. Sad so Sad. But I have to believe in KARMA

    1. Rusty Shackelford says:

      sheryl = Obama. WAKE UP!!!

  13. Terry Ward says:

    Why does anyone bother to engage with Shackleford?
    it’s like arguing with Fred Phelps.
    Troublemakers want one thing…trouble.

    Ignore them and they will go away.
    Even if they say they won’t.

  14. Worker bee says:

    Another far right wing assault on the Constitutional right of freedom of speech and expression. The only ones who should have those rights are the rich and powerful, I guess. This Republican congressman just wants the rest of us to kneel and genuflect at the altar of the rich, powerful, and corporate interests. I pity the animals. He should be forced into a puppy mill cage for a day!

  15. Brent says:

    Rod – you’ve got to be kidding. This bill will never pass.

  16. Citizen of Minnesota says:

    Time to let Magnus know what we think here in Minnesota. Write to him at

  17. Citizen of Minnesota says:

    Time to write Rod Hamilton, too:

  18. Patriot says:

    Hamilton’s and Magnus’s constituents are obviously afraid of having people see what they are doing. Ditto the puppy mills. Honest people are NEVER afraid of having a 60 Minutes’ news team on their doorstep!

  19. Kryptonite to Stupid says:

    Magnus & Hamilton have sold their souls to protect their evil $ interests. If it wasn’t for undercover tactics, we wouldn’t know what really goes on at Planned Parenthood, NPR, ACORN, and all those child molesters on the internet.
    Hopefully Gov. Dayton, an animal lover, would veto if passed. You never know though. He’s never been a big “freedom” kind of guy.

  20. Concerned says:

    Interesting that Magnus says it’s the job of the Animal Board of Health to inspect these facilities. It is not! Currently MN does not have any state laws to regulate dog or cat breeders. There are bills — SF 462/HF 702 — that would give the state the authority to license and regulate large commercial breeders. However, the bills are waiting for a committee hearing. Since Magnus and Hamilton chair these committees, perhaps they could schedule these hearings and move the bills forward.

  21. MARK says:

    Another example of Republicans putting corporations (in this case big agriculture) above all else. They don’t care about right and wrong, they care about money, period.

  22. Chrissy says:

    I cannot believe our elected officials are wasting their time on something like this. Don’t they have more important issues to worry about such as the budget, unemployment, economy, welfare reform, taxes, etc.???

    I have already written to my House Rep and Senate Rep saying if they vote yes on this, they won’t get my vote next time. I’m not holding my breath for a response but we’ll see….

  23. Citizen of Minnesota says:

    Chrissy, good for you to write your congressmen. I wrote Magnus and Hamilton. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a response, either. Honest people, farmers, corporations are not afraid of the truth–they don’t fear a 60 Minutes investigative team at their doorstep because they have nothing to hide. I wonder what is trying to be hidden here.

  24. Kate says:

    Funny how many of those who justified secret surveillance on private citizens during the GOP convention in Saint Paul, and endorse camera monitors staying put even after the convention was over, who endorse pat downs and using poorly trained workers to irradiate paying, law abiding citizens at air ports are against a camera being pointed at animals. Corporate America certainly has shown what politicians they purchased-