When the Law Fails Animals, We Change the Laws
A letter from Sarah Hanneken, Legal Advocacy Counsel for Animal Equality:
A wise man once said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member.”
But what if I told you the most vulnerable among us are still suffering behind closed doors?
You see, many animal welfare laws on our books don’t apply to farmed animals, and those that do are often unenforced.
As Animal Equality’s Legal Advocacy Counsel, I have seen firsthand how many shocking factory farm practices are completely legal. Painful mutilations, inhumane transport conditions, and distressing killing methods are just a few examples.
So, what is an animal defender to do?
When the law fails animals, we change the laws.
That is why Animal Equality’s recent proposal to change the Mexican Constitution was approved by the Chamber of Deputies, paving the way for its first nationwide animal welfare law.
It’s also why we campaigned in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Hidalgo, which criminalized many forms of cruelty to farmed animals in recent years.
Meanwhile, in multiple cities, we’re fighting for an end to the sale of foie gras, a luxury menu item sometimes found in high-end cuisine. Residents have spoken out against foie gras because it requires force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers become enlarged and diseased.
And in Spain, Animal Equality is fighting for transparency in the factory farming industry. The government now requires surveillance in all slaughterhouses, but this footage is only shown to those who work in the industry. We’re demanding an end to this self-regulation.
Finally, for those who break the existing animal cruelty laws, we’re demanding consequences. Thanks to investigative footage, an English dairy farm employee received a 12-month suspended prison sentence in 2017 for punching and kicking newborn cows.
Here’s the catch, none of this could have been done without our investigators.
If Animal Equality investigators hadn’t gone undercover in 34 slaughterhouses in Mexico, we would not have documented pigs being beaten with axes and dropped into scalding hot water, or a lamb’s head ripped from its body while conscious.
Without Animal Equality’s investigators, the world would never have seen underground Brazilian slaughterhouses skinning animals alive or attacking them with sledgehammers. We wouldn’t have been able to use this evidence to warn those in Brazil about the limits of self-regulation.
Without brave investigators, residents and lawmakers in cities around the US might not have witnessed how ducks and geese raised for foie gras live covered in vomit and blood, many with beaks broken, as the living lie among the dead.
And without Animal Equality’s investigators, the abuse and neglect captured at Summit Calf Ranch in Nebraska would never have been released.
Without investigators, Animal Equality’s legal team would not have important evidence we need to take action.
And without our monthly donors, there would be no investigations.
You see, these investigations often require months to complete. The only way to sustain them is by relying on a network of passionate monthly supporters – people like you – who join us on the frontlines in creating history.
These are people from all walks of life–teachers, grandparents, nurses, businesspeople–who bond over one common goal: creating a world where a calf can drink milk from his nurturing mother, a lamb can play with its siblings, or a piglet can feel sunshine and breathe fresh air.
With rich emotional lives and unbreakable family bonds, farmed animals deserve to be protected.
You can build a kinder world by replacing animal food products with plant‑based ones.
They’re game changers, pioneers, and a powerful force making history.
Just like you, they’re people who demand accountability, transparency, and protections for animals under the law.
Investigators need you, I need you, and–most importantly–animals need you.
Consider becoming a monthly donor to Animal Equality and help create a world where animals are treated with kindness and compassion. Your support can help us continue proposing and campaigning for changes in the law and exposing cruel practices in factory farms, ultimately making a positive difference in the lives of all animals.