House editorial: How things ought to be

In May, an undercover investigator for the group Mercy for Animals shot disturbing footage at a Canadian dairy farm. Workers beat cows with chains, rakes and canes.

What happened next?

According to reporting by the Vancouver Sun, the farm workers were fired. They could face up to 18 months in prison and a lifetime ban from working with animals.

One of the dairy’s owners said he was appalled by the video, which “looked like a horror movie.” The dairy plans to install surveillance cameras to monitor employees and take the advice of an independent veterinarian about how to better care for the animals.

“We deeply apologize for what happened,” one owner said. “Obviously, we need to do better with our training and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Abuse was exposed and stopped. Owners took steps to make sure it won’t be repeated. That’s how things work in British Columbia.

That’s how things could have worked in Idaho.

When legislators, egged on by the dairy industry, passed an ag-gag law during the recent legislative session, they ensured that abuses, including the kind videotaped at a Magic Valley area dairy in 2012, will remain hidden. Lawmakers protected some of the vilest creatures among us — those who victimize helpless animals.

That Canadian dairy isn’t going out of business. The B.C. Milk Marketing Board isn’t trying to cram though changes in law to hide the truth from the public. And Mercy for Animals isn’t looking to end the Canadian dairy industry; it seeks government regulation to prevent needless cruelty.

Frankly, it looks as though Canadians don’t need the government to step in. That video — and the admirable reaction to it by dairy owners and industry leaders — seems to have taken care of the problem.

Imagine that.

Corey Taule