Friday, June 12, 2015

Undercover workers record animal cruelty at Colorado farm; employees fired, charges pending

Allegations of animal abuse recorded by undercover workers at a dairy farm near Fort Morgan, Colo., has led to a criminal investigation, Jesse Paul reports for The Denver Post. Members of Mercy for Animals, a Los Angeles-based group, released video on Wednesday that "shows workers apparently stabbing cows with pencils, screwdrivers and dairy equipment. The video also shows cows being kicked and hit and workers failing to care for their injuries." (Mercy for Animals photo)

Farm owners Jim and Marie Goedert, who fired five employees and disciplined seven others, said in a statement: "We are appalled that these incidents took place here and have taken disciplinary action against all of the employees involved, including several prior to our knowledge of the video as part of our normal dairy management. We take great pride in our family farm and in the care we provide to our animals." The Goederts have told local law enforcement that they plan to press charges against employees.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, of which the Fort Morgan farm is a member, criticized the methods of which the images were taken. The organization said in a statement: "It is disheartening that groups like Mercy For Animals, which claim to have animal care and wellness at heart, seek change through deceit and misconception, rather than working with the industry to proactively address their concerns. When animal abuse is witnessed, it should be immediately reported, not recorded."

An "ag-gag" bill proposed this year in Colorado but later tabled by its sponsor would have required reporting of cruelty within 48 hours, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "This 'quick-reporting'  bill would prevent the collection of adequate evidence to show patterns of abuse, neglect or abandonment, potentially hindering prosecution of abusers," the ASPCA said.

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