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Episode 587: Going Undercover for Animals ft. Erin Wing

By Jasmin and Mariann — April 10, 2021

We’re incredibly excited to welcome Erin Wing to the podcast today for a deep dive into the role of animal cruelty investigators. Erin is the Deputy Director of Investigations at Animal Outlook, a national animal-advocacy nonprofit formerly known as Compassion Over Killing. In her conversation with Mariann, she provides a rare, inside look into the day-to-day lives of investigators who go undercover at factory farms, and, in Erin’s case, a fish farm, to expose the horrors of animal agriculture. Erin shares how she first became involved with investigations early in her career, how long her investigations last, and what kind of information she generally seeks. Erin also tells us why her physical and mental health demanded that she no longer go undercover and about her current role at Animal Outlook.

A former undercover investigator, Erin left the field after her last investigation at the Dick Van Dam Dairy in California, where she witnessed heartbreaking cruelty, abuse, and suffering every day. Through her new position with Animal Outlook, Erin now works closely with investigators still in the field, providing support and resources.

“The footage that we get serves as an epitaph that the animals leave behind, and we’re the keepers of that. It’s a role that’s really important and I don’t take it lightly.” – Erin Wing

Highlights:

  • Why people find it easier to detach from the effects of aquaculture and some of the moments of horror and, perhaps surprisingly, compassion Erin witnessed when she infiltrated a fish farm
  • Why it’s so vital to detach from your compassionate self when working undercover and how Erin did that
  • The effects of being isolated while undercover and the ways Erin tried to protect her mental health
  • Some background on Erin’s investigation at the Dick Van Dam Dairy and some of her experiences there
  • How undercover investigators avoid being caught and the possible consequences of being exposed
  • The events that finally influenced Erin to retire from investigations completely, and the visceral memory that transported her back to her traumatic past and made her decide that she needed to move into another role to protect her health
  • The kind of results undercover investigations are hoping to achieve and how they do it
  • Erin’s current focus in her animal-advocacy work

Connect with Erin Wing:

Connect with Our Hen House:

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This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.

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You can listen to our podcast directly on our website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher! Also, if you like what you hear, please rate it and leave us a comment on Apple Podcasts! Of course, we would be thrilled if you would also consider making a donation, or becoming a member of our flock (especially if you’re a regular listener). Any amount is hugely appreciated, and Our Hen House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so it’s tax-deductible! Thank you for helping us create quality content, and for helping us bring you a new podcast episode each week!

Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by Michael Harren.






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