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Nathan Runkle
Nathan Runkle is the founder and executive director of Mercy For Animals. Raised on a farm in rural Ohio, Nathan has long had a deep connection with farmed animals and agriculture. After a local farmed animal abuse case, involving a piglet slammed head first into a concrete floor during an agriculture project at a nearby high school, Nathan founded Mercy For Animals to give “food” animals a much needed advocate in his local community. Since founding Mercy For Animals in 1999, Nathan has overseen the organization's growth into a leading national force for the respectful and compassionate treatment of farmed animals. A grassroots organizer and coordinator for many years, Nathan has spearheaded hundreds of demonstrations and outreach events across the country – ranging from protests outside pork and egg producer conventions to parade marches, educational exhibits, and more. A nationally recognized speaker on animal advocacy, grassroots activism, and factory farming, Nathan has spoken at colleges, forums, and conferences from coast to coast.

Entries by Nathan Runkle

The Cruel Lies We Buy on Thanksgiving

(10) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 4:55 PM

On Monday, a turkey will board a flight from San Francisco to Washington to be pardoned by President Obama on Thanksgiving. Don't call him lucky though. If he survives the trip and the presidential paparazzi (and he may not), he'll almost certainly be dead by this time next year.

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Thanks But No Thanks, Arby's: Vegetarians Don't Want Your Meat

(183) Comments | Posted July 15, 2015 | 2:45 PM

Image credit: Mike Mozart

I'm a vegetarian, and I have a message for Arby's: Your bacon is disgusting, and I want nothing to do with it. In your open letter to vegetarians, issued via press release,...

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Why Hundreds of Animal Rights Advocates Just Celebrated LA Pride

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 11:31 AM


Sunday, June 14 marked the 45th anniversary of LA Pride, the largest LGBT celebration in Southern California. The event's iconic parade is one of the most inclusive in Los Angeles, bringing lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight, transgender, and cisgender people from across the state...

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Cheeseburgers, Climate Change and the California Drought

(57) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 12:41 AM

Here in California, the record-breaking, headline-making drought is always on our minds. A NASA scientist warns that we may have just one year's worth of water left, and Governor Jerry Brown has urged us all to cut our showers short and let our lawns go brown.

But the governor's plea...

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The Solution to Climate Change Isn't Difficult -- It's Delicious

(18) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 1:47 PM

Solution aversion. That's what Duke University researchers call our society's collective refusal to address climate change. Their recent study found that people don't deny a warming earth on scientific grounds -- they deny it because they just don't like the solutions.

But what if the solution to climate change...

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An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

(11) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 7:05 PM

Dear Mr. Bezos,

As the founder and CEO of, the world's largest online retailer, you hold incredible power. I'm writing today to urge you to use this power for good: to protect animals from cruelty by immediately banning the sale of foie gras on

Amazon has...

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Idaho's 'Ag-Gag' Bill: Shameful Attempt to Hide Animal Cruelty on Factory Farms

(63) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 10:30 PM

The images were shocking: workers at an Idaho dairy farm viciously beating cows with canes, jumping on their backs as they moaned in distress, kicking them in the face, and even dragging sick and injured animals across concrete flooring with chains attached to their necks.

It was animal cruelty, plain and simple. The images, captured on hidden camera by an investigator working with our organization, Mercy for Animals, led Idaho law enforcement to file criminal animal cruelty charges against multiple workers and a manager at Wendell-based Bettencourt Dairies.

But what's perhaps more shocking than the footage is the response from the state's dairy industry. Rather than praise the brave whistleblower who reported and exposed the heinous crimes, Idaho's dairy industry is now aiming to shoot the messenger by lobbying for Senate Bill 1337 (S 1337), an "ag-gag" bill that would make it a crime to film inside its facilities.

S 1337 would make it a crime, punishable by imprisonment, to simply photograph or videotape abusive, unsanitary or otherwise unethical activity on a farm. Even employees and journalists who take photos or video to document misconduct on farms -- whether it's mistreatment of animals, food safety hazards, worker safety violations, sexual harassment, financial embezzlement, or environmental crimes -- could face criminal prosecution if the bill is passed.

Idaho's dairy industry needs more transparency, not less. Consumers have a right to see how their food is produced so they can make informed decisions. Sadly, too many animals on factory farms suffer out of sight and out of mind because there is no governmental body charged with overseeing their welfare. Furthermore, employees who witness abuse are often too fearful of violent retaliation or losing their jobs to report it.

In this broken system, the job of documenting and enforcing Idaho's animal cruelty laws is often left to concerned citizens, journalists, and investigators with nonprofit charities. Given the abysmal state of affairs, Idaho's dairy industry should be pressing for stronger animal protection laws, more oversight, and greater transparency. Its push for an "ag-gag" bill is misdirected, dangerous, and a slap in the face of consumers statewide.

"Ag-gag" bills like Idaho's not only effectively sweep evidence of animal cruelty under the rug but pose serious threats to freedom of speech and the press. This has led the ACLU and others to oppose such bills and label them unconstitutional.

Idaho's families deserve a safe food supply, but S 1337 places it at risk. Investigations by animal protection charities bring to light not only animal cruelty but serious public health dangers. In fact, the largest meat recall in U.S. history -- over 143 million pounds -- resulted from such an investigation. The undercover video revealed cows too sick or injured to even walk, wallowing in their own feces, exhibiting signs of potential "mad cow" disease or other infections. Yet they were viciously kicked, shocked, and pushed with forklifts onto the kill floor. Meat from these animals turned up on children's plates through the National School Lunch Program, threatening their health and lives. Had an "ag-gag" law been in place at the time, this investigation would never have been conducted, and this illegal and dangerous behavior would likely continue to this day.

Let's hope that Idaho's elected officials act in their citizens' best interests rather than on corporate interests and reject S 1337.

This blog post originally appeared in Magic Valley...

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Why Is Amazon Ducking Animal Cruelty Controversy?

(7) Comments | Posted June 18, 2013 | 1:20 PM

Video footage secretly recorded by a Mercy For Animals undercover investigator at Hudson Valley Foie Gras -- the country's largest foie gras producer -- has uncovered the systematic torture of animals. Workers were caught on hidden camera violently grabbing ducks by their wings and necks and shoving metal...

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Turkey Torture: Butterball Workers Found Guilty of Cruelty to Animals

(5) Comments | Posted February 27, 2013 | 4:13 PM

In a historic first for the animal protection movement, Butterball factory farm worker Brian Douglas was arrested, charged, and convicted of felony cruelty to animals in August 2012. The conviction arose from a hidden-camera undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals, which caught Douglas beating, throwing, and...

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The High Cost of Walmart's Cheap Pork

(47) Comments | Posted February 8, 2013 | 11:58 AM

Do you think it's acceptable to cram an animal into a crate so small she can't even turn around, lie down comfortably, walk, run, play, or engage in other basic behaviors? Walmart does.

A Mercy For Animals undercover investigation released last spring provides a shocking look into blatant...

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