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Factory Farm Undercover Investigator Opens Up About the Job

Factory Farm Undercover Investigator Opens Up About the Job

We’ve seen the graphic footage of farm animal suffering that gets brought to light by undercover investigations, but so much less attention is given to the experience of investigators who have to endure what they witness to help raise our awareness about the atrocities inflicted on these animals on a daily basis.

This week, one of them took to Reddit and opened an “Ask Me Anything” session to let people ask questions about working as an undercover investigator. His name is T.J. Tumasse and he has spent years exposing animal cruelty, mainly as an investigator for Mercy for Animals. He says he has been telling his story to the animal welfare community, but now wants it to reach a wider audience.

The work is, unsurprisingly, as troubling and difficult as you think it is.

Tumasse says he lived with the constant fear of being discovered and now lives with the emotional aftermath that comes with being a witness to the suffering of innocent beings. Instead of becoming desensitized by what he saw, he says he has become very sensitive to violence and suffers from nightmares, PTSD and other physical problems as a result of the work.

“When we work undercover we have to do the job at the facility to the best of our ability while maintaining a cruelty free working ethic with the animals as much as possible. The problem is that cruelty is often inherent in standard practice in animal agriculture. It makes the investigators job extremely difficult,” he said.

“Every time I saw torture it broke my heart. I hated having to see all the things I saw.”

While he adds that not all workers were intentionally malicious towards animals, some of the biggest problems in animal ag are a result of the standard practices used today.

“There is not any positive treatment of animals because the companies exploiting them make the workers work so hard and fast that they can not act with compassion at all,” he said.

Combine that with the simple fact that animals are seen as commodities, not living creatures capable of experiencing a range of emotions from joy to fear, grief and pain who have their own interest in being able to live free from harm, and it’s a recipe for suffering.

Some of those standard practices include confining mother pigs to gestation crates and egg-laying hens to battery cages, routinely destroying male chicks, castrating piglets and cutting off their tails without pain killers. These are just a few of the things the industry doesn’t want people thinking about or questioning and is trying desperately to hide behind closed doors with ag gag laws.

“This is a blatant attempt to silence out right to free speech. These factory farms have everything to hide because people would not support them by buying their products if they knew what was happening. The fact that they will go to these lengths to try to keep their actions hidden shows the cruelty of what they do is something to be ashamed of,” he said.

Earlier this month, he stood up and gave a very compelling talk about his experience at the National Animal Rights Conference.

Also very worth watching is the talk that Taylor Radig gave at the conference about her experience working undercover for Compassion Over Killing to expose cruelty to dairy calves in Colorado. After she came forward with evidence she was arrested and charged with animal cruelty for not turning over the footage sooner, even though the state had no ag gag law or reporting requirement.

When asked about how people can help animals, aside from not consuming animal products, and support this type of work, Tumasse suggests, “The best ways for people to be involved are volunteering locally, sharing social media, and supporting organizations like Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and others who do undercover work.”

“Undercover work is imperative to advocating a compassionate lifestyle, and holding the system of food production responsible is the most important part of this. That responsibility ultimately falls on the consumer support these industries by purchasing their products.”

To ask him a question, or thank him for the work he did, check out the thread on Reddit here.

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Photo credit: Peter Nijenhuis

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120 comments

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6:11PM PDT on Aug 30, 2014

Worldwide, not only in the "developed" countries but in third world human cesspools the worst criminals on earth have infiltrated top management of evil corporations and into criminal government positions that subsidize and support them. This is a disease called "capitalism", which translates to corporate slavery and a human invented overpopulated nightmare of chaos and cruelty which even Satan would reject. If you wanted to experience true Hell, the human devastated Earth would fit that description nicely.

5:36AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions : ♞ Care 2 - and - ♞ PeticaoPublica.com

And now you can help the sanctuary that is home to farm animals, victims of exploitation, of abuse, and all kinds of cruelty. Some comes from Pétropolis some from other places around this city. Today there are 150 lucky animals, please give, for keeping them and to rescue other ones : ♥ Fairy sanctuary - or - ♥ Doe

Thank you for sharing

8:55AM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

I have such admiration for courageous undercover investigators like T.J. and Taylor. The work you do is critically important and I thank you from the bottom of my (ethical vegan) heart.

8:59PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

TY

6:50PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

This was a sad and painful article to read. The suffering of animals pains me greatly.

It also saddens me that changes are unlikely to occur as the demand for meat is ever increasing, not diminishing, as if those "proteins" are the key to our survival! In the last ice age, maybe... When every part of an animal was used and consumed.

How far we have journeyed, when now we can kill and hunt animals for pleasure, and mistreat in atrocious ways the animals on which our survival no longer depends.

3:47PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

l just want to thank you T.J. Tumasse and other undercover investigators for all the hard and heartbreaking work you are doing to opening peoples eyes as to what is happening (the cruelty) in these sort of places, if it was not for people like you there would still be a huge amount of suffering towards these animals. A thank you from animals lovers around the world and the most important ones the animals themselves.

6:04AM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

E' proprio grazie al duro lavoro di questi agenti sotto copertura che sono diventata vegetariana! Grazie!!!!

11:17PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

T.J. Tumasse and other under cover investigators are the heroes of Earth. They are willing to suffer horribly in order to film the factory farm situations and to shed light into it for the public to see what is going on. Because of people like those we have the chance together with lawyers to put an end to factory farming. Each person can do something to end the torture. Become a vegan. Write letters to legislators. Sign petitions.

7:26PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

(continued from previous post. Thanks.)
The current system of factory farming rewards bad behavior, and it all needs to be seriously overhauled from top to bottom. We can start with first animals are not things, inanimate objects and have needs, wants as desires just as we do. They have lives, and I can promise you that as important as our life is to each of us, their life is just as important to them.
People like T.J. Tumasse and Taylor Radig have my deepest respect and gratitude and support in every way that I can for everything that they do . I try to honor their work by talking to people, telling them what is happening and how to find out more. People don't like to hear about the dirty little secrets (aka business as usual) in the food/farm industry. We speak up and out to power, business owners, markets, ceo's, new media , lawmakers, attorney generals, local government, etc. If we make enough noise about it, refuse to go away and have a large enough volume of people objecting to the status quo only then do things begin to change. And you have to keep "their feet to the fire" to keep them accountable. Consumers and customers speak volumes when they vote with their purchases and what they will boycott. There are competitors that are doing better by animals because the people/consumers demanded it.
For lack of better words, I send my deepest thanks and gratitude to TJ, Taylor and all who work to end the excruciatingly cruel and inhumane practices of "factory farming

7:25PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

The people that go and do undercover work are some of the most courageous and compassionate people on the planet. I cannot imagine the inner strength that they have to hold it together in order to do this crucial work in the most unnatural and heart wrenching situations at great danger to themselves. All the time more and more obstacles (ag-gag laws, etc.) are being allowed stemming from special interests/ politics to keep them from bringing to light and transparency the truth of what is happening. They are distorting and perverting our laws for their own purposes against public policy. Seeing and experiencing unspeakable and horrific crimes of brutality, abuse, torture against these vulnerable, defenseless, frightened, sentient animals who are babies and mothers and what they have to endure daily by some of the vilest subhuman people on earth that make a sport of causing misery and suffering to these intelligent, gentle beings without "loosing it" is far beyond my capability or capacity. Each time I watch a video, read, or learn the stories of what happens, yet again, I am sickened, upset and really, really angry about it. It is unconscionable and indefensible and totally, totally unnecessary. Bullies and cowards who treat animals with such sadistic malevolence are nothing but criminals and need to not only be fired from their jobs, but charged with animal abuse and seriously punished for it. The current system of factory farming rewards bad behavior, and it all needs to b

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