Humane Society urges U.S. Senate to crack down on crush videos

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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Vice President of Government Affairs Nancy Perry testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing this week named 'Prohibiting Obscene Animal Crush Videos in the Wake of United States v. Stevens.' Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. - who plans to introduce legislation with Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. and Richard Burr, R-N.C. to ban interstate and foreign commerce of these videos - presided at the hearing. The animal torture videos show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling of puppies, kittens and other live animals - all for the entertainment of the viewers.

"The crush video industry is thriving, in the wake of U.S. v. Stevens," Perry said. "Congress must pass legislation immediately to prevent the prolonged, sadistic torture of thousands of helpless animals. It is impossible to overstate the depth of the depravity of this sexual fetish or the despicability of those who seek to profit from it."

The videos involve scantily clad women or girls often using stiletto heels to inflict pain on the animals, while using dominatrix or sexual vocabulary. The videos can last for many minutes, or even hours, during which time cries and squeals of the animals are featured along with their excretions of blood, urine and organs as they are cruelly crushed to death.

Investigations by The HSUS and other agencies, have shown a massive increase of these sickening videos for sale on the internet since the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which overturned the 1999 Congressional law that banned the sale of crush videos.

At the hearing, called by Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee also heard the testimony from Dr. Kevin Volkan a psychology expert who spoke of the sexual nature of the animal crush videos. A letter from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys urging prompt action by the Senate to address the problem was entered in the record.

Timeline:

1999 - HSUS investigators uncover more than 2,000 animal crush videos available in the marketplace, selling for as much as $300 each.

December 1999 - President 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 declare the law unconstitutional.

December 2008 - The U.S. Solicitor General files a petition for certiorari asking 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 attorney generals, file amicus briefs pressing the Supreme Court to reinstate the crush video ban.

September 2009 - The HSUS releases an investigation documenting the recent incline in horrific crush videos.

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

April 21, 2010 -More than 50 representatives introduce H.R. 5092 to end the intentional crushing, burning, drowning and impaling of puppies, kittens and other animals for the purpose of selling videos depicting 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, R-Calif., 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 hearing.

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

July 21, 2010 - The U.S. House of Representatives approves H.R. 5566 by a 416-3 vote.

July 29, 2010 - The HSUS releases new evidence, based on a tip from a Russian investigator, who identified through online forums numerous crush videos easily available to purchase for under $100. His investigation founds many video clips showing young women and girls maiming and killing animals, including dogs, goats, monkeys, rabbits and pigs.

To act upon this information and to contact your U.S. Senators please go here.

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Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/jaytamboli

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