February 21, 2006

when it's not fuzzy-wuzzy at all

tonight "Dealing Dogs," a documentary about an arkansas dog dealer who mistreats animals, will air on hbo.
Four years in the making, DEALING DOGS follows the undercover investigation of Martin Creek Kennel by the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals. A young man who goes by the name of "Pete" in the film wore a hidden camera while he worked a low- level job hosing kennels at the dog dealer. Over the course of six months, Pete secretly filmed activities at Martin Creek Kennel, including the beating and shooting of dogs, and recorded footage of animals that were left to languish in their kennels and suffered from malnourishment, life-threatening disease and injury, among other abuses. Dog corpses are shown piled up on the property and in trenches after being butchered for their organs.
viewer's discretion is advised. here are excerpts from an interview salon.com did with "pete", an undercover investigator for an animal rights group, about how far he would go in doing wrong -- abusing animals in order not to blow his cover -- to do right on a larger scale.

How's the work that you do different than that of an undercover cop or humane agent?

I don't plant evidence, I don't change evidence, but I do whatever it takes to obtain evidence -- regardless of what the law says. There are a lot of good police officers out there, but most police are good old boys that don't care, most humane agents are good old boys who don't care, and the USDA is always against us. They never cooperate with animal rights activists or investigators in the slightest bit.

How do you prepare yourself psychologically to take part in animal abuse?

Basically what you do is, you put yourself in a mindset: If this is the person that I am, what is my motivation? My motivation is to get a paycheck. That's the only thing I care about. The abuse -- it's easier to do than you think if you're able to step outside yourself. Still, I would do things to those dogs where I would finish the job and I would go home at night and I'd review my footage and I was embarrassed to write down in my field notes the things that I'd done.

Were there instances when you were more than just neglectful, when you were actually hurting animals?

At one point at Martin Creek Kennel there were two dogs fighting so I grabbed them by their scruff and I pulled them apart and got in their faces and I yelled at them to stop. So the dogs stopped. I have a lot of experience working with dogs and I knew it would work. But afterward, a guy named Bill said, "Yeah, just nail him in the face." So I smacked this dog in the face and the dog bounces off the wire wall and hits the concrete floor and just lays there motionless on the ground looking at me.

There's a scene in the documentary when you secretly film someone shooting a perfectly healthy dog. What would you do if you were undercover and someone handed you a gun and told you to shoot a dog?

I would shoot the dog. I know I would. If they tell me to hit it, or kick it, or throw it, I know I'll do that because I've done that before. I've worked at a place where we would throw animals around like you wouldn't believe. And it was unnecessary, but it's what they did, so it's what I did.

Can you imagine a scenario where you'd be on assignment and someone will say, "Go do this," and you won't be able to?

If someone has gone too far and they're going to like light a live dog on fire, then I'm going to start beating the shit out of people. Or if I see someone has involved a person and is going to try to do something cruel to another person, then at that point I'm going to forfeit the investigation. But it would take a lot. It would take something really extreme to forfeit the case.

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