Serial killers’ worst crimes are done to farmed animals ‘on a mass scale,’ says undercover investigator

Undercover investigator ‘Andy’ worked in a slaughterhouse to gather video footage for HBO’s award-winning documentary ‘Death on a Factory Farm.’
Photo: HBO

By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

annual can be a lovely experience. At a glittering hotel in Beverly Hills, celebrities glow in their gowns and tuxes, banquet tables offer gourmet vegan delights, and applause thunders for quotes and clips from media projects that focus on animal issues.

The event can can also be disorienting. Amidst the glitter and glow, there’s the underlying awareness of why the awards are held: to spotlight the cruelty that HSUS says is perpetrated upon animals of all kinds, every day, around the world. 

That sense of disconnect between the evening’s celebration and the alleged horrors that it seeks to combat might never be more pronounced than at a moment when you stand at the after-party buffet table gorging on chocolate pastries, and realize that the young man next to you–the one in a baseball cap and sunglasses–is a guy who does professional undercover animal abuse investigations.

For that young man, the world is rarely about spotlights, vegan delicacies, or movie stars. His world is often a dimly-lit, dank and sweaty one, splattered with the blood and guts of the animals that he and other workers are paid to kill.

At the 2010 Genesis Awards, where HBO received Best TV documentary for , Animal Issues Reporter spoke with the . For this interview, he asked to be called “Andy.”

AIR Interview with ‘Andy,’ undercover animal rights investigator

Animal Issues Reporter (AIR): It must be difficult to have to go in day in and day out and work in slaughterhouses and other places where you object to what they do.

“Andy”:  It is. Part of it is that, as an investigator, you have to be very objective. So the goal in undercover investigations is you have to show things exactly as they are without being an outside influence. You have to do exactly what you’re told by your superiors.

You don’t want to offer any help or any harm to the animals that you would not do as a worker otherwise, and that’s what it means to be professional in undercover investigations. To do that you just kind of have to shut your emotions off and deal with that later.

Also, what may make it easier, I think, as a reality is that in a lot of these industrialized systems where animals are kept, it is easier than people think to become desensitized to the abuse the animals endure. The animals are treated as numbers.

Or I remember working at a turkey farm, where the animals… It was like they were treated as “trucks.” It’s like you had so many trucks you have to do a day, and you’re not thinking of them as all these turkeys with broken legs that you’re shackling and hanging upside down. You think of them as, “OK, how many trucks have we got left? I got two left. I got one truck left.”

And quicker than you realize, you know what it is you’re doing, but you’re not thinking about it as much.

AIR: Can I ask what led you to choose this line of work—investigating animal abuse?

“Andy”: Well, I originally wanted to be a police officer and I wanted to join the FBI. So I studied different units of the FBI and the one I was most fascinated by was the serial killer/child abduction unit, because the things that I read about were the worst crimes I could ever imagine in my life. I thought, well, maybe that would be my calling—to help prevent those crimes and track down those people.

I’ve always been kind of an adrenaline junkie so I thought I’d like to be on the enforcement end.

And then I started learning about animal rights issues and I realized that the worst things I have ever heard about a serial killer doing, identical or similar things happen to animals, but on a mass scale.

And then I also realized that for every unit of the FBI, and for every federal agency, and for every police department, there are people lining up and getting turned away to apply. There are not enough people doing investigations for animal rights work. So it seemed to make sense that that’s where I should be.

AIR: You probably can’t give your name, so how should I identify you?

“Andy”: Can I just make up a name?

AIR: Whatever you say.

“Andy”: You can call me “Andy.”

AIR:  And what would be your job title?

“Andy”: I’m an undercover animal rights investigator.

(Interview transcription by A. Bronwyn Llewellyn)

More AIR about farmed animals:

Farmed animals might be the hardest-working Americans

Is slaughterhouse abuse of cows surprising? Government agency has complained about it for years

‘These guys are good—we don’t like them, but they are good at what they do’: farm bureau about Humane Society

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Katerina Lorenzatos Makris is a career journalist, author, and editor. Credits include hundreds of articles for regional wire services and for  outlets such as National Geographic TravelerThe San Francisco ChronicleTravelers’ Tales, NBC’s , and (), a teleplay for CBS-TV, a short story for  magazine, and 17 novels for Avon, E.P. Dutton, Simon and Schuster, and other major publishers.

Together with coauthor Shelley Frost, Katerina wrote a step-by-step guide for hands-on, in-the-trenches dog rescue,  (The Lyons Press).

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One Comment on “Serial killers’ worst crimes are done to farmed animals ‘on a mass scale,’ says undercover investigator”

  1. lindabadham says:


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