Agency Hails Ban on Animal Cruelty Videos


The head of Ventura County’s largest animal protection agency Friday hailed a new federal law banning the sale of animal cruelty videos, calling it a major victory for animal rights.

President Clinton has signed into law a measure making it a crime to profit from the interstate sale of so-called “crush videos” that typically depict women--often in spike heels--crushing small animals to death.

“I think any time the laws become stronger and more enforceable, it’s certainly a victory for those who can’t speak for themselves,” said Joyce George, president of the Humane Society of Ventura County.


The legislation, triggered by a Ventura County case and sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), sets a penalty of up to five years in prison for profiting from the interstate sale of depictions of animal cruelty.

“The speed with which this bill sailed through Congress says a lot about the recognition that cruelty to animals is a deep societal issue,” Gallegly said after Clinton signed the bill Thursday night.

“Most experts now recognize that those who kill or torture animals often will progress to harming and even killing fellow human beings,” Gallegly added. “This is one step toward ending this cycle of violence.”

Gallegly introduced the bill after the Ventura County district attorney ran into problems last year using existing state animal-cruelty laws to prosecute a Thousand Oaks man who was selling crush videos over the Internet.

George’s office played an integral role in the investigation of suspected crush video producer Gary Lynn Thomason. Thomason, 48, who now lives in Anaheim, has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty stemming from a similar case in Los Angeles County.

Clinton said the legislation should assist in reducing or eliminating some of the “deplorable and indefensible” acts of animal cruelty described during congressional hearings.


During those hearings, graphic photographs and several minutes of video footage were shown. Crush videos generally feature a woman’s feet, often in heels, slowly crushing to death a small animal such as a mouse, guinea pig or kitten.

Critics warned that the law could violate 1st Amendment rights. Gallegly amended the bill to exempt depictions if they have “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.”


Times Community News reporter Holly J. Wolcott contributed to this story.