Horrific video of what appears to be animal abuse at Florida dairy farm leads to 3 arrests
An animal rights group released video footage appearing to show horrific treatment of cows at a Florida dairy farm, leading to the arrest of at least three workers on animal cruelty charges.
Video released by Miami-based Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) claims to show workers at McArthur Farm in Okeechobee using sharp, pointed sticks and PVC pipes with blades attached to the ends, to prod the cattle.
According to the group, the video was recorded by two of its undercover investigators between August and October of this year.
The video shows one alleged farm worker using a torch to burn the underbellies of the constricted cattle. The group claims the torch is used as “punishment,” and was also used to burn the cow’s face.
ARM said in the video that “new mothers are violently force fed” and “cows are painfully inseminated” while “calves are inhumanely extracted from their mothers.”
The calves are then only given “seconds with their mothers,” before being processed and placed in “overcrowded bins,” ARM says in the video.
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The video also shows live cows being lifted, pushed around, and dropped by tractors.
Police arrested three people who were allegedly seen on video committing abuse, Okeechobee Sheriff Noel Stephen told the Palm Beach Post on Thursday.
Mario Hernandez, an assistant supervisor, was given a felony charge of third-degree animal cruelty. Police say he was caught on camera hitting a cow in the face with a sharpened PVC pipe.
The two others, caretaker Fernando Lopez and Nau Dorantes Garcia, are facing misdemeanour charges of first-degree animal cruelty.
It’s the third dairy farm under scrutiny. Larson Dairy and Burnham Dairy were also investigated by ARM last month. A fourth, Davie Dairy, is also under police investigation.
Police said there are hundreds of hours of video to go through.
For their parts, Larson Dairy said in a statement last month that officials were appalled by what was found during the ARM investigation, and had fired the worker involved. Burnham Dairy said in a statement last month officials are “taking immediate action” on the employees involved.
McArthur Dairy hasn’t commented on the investigation.
In a press release, Dean Foods Company said it owns the McArthur Dairy brand and a nearby processing plant, but “does not own or control any dairy farms.”
“However, we are still very engaged in the animal welfare issues highlighted in ARM’s video because McArthur Farms is part of the Southeast Milk Cooperative (“SMI”) and is consequently in our milk supply,” the release states. “Dean Foods is appalled at the behaviors shown in the video released by ARM.”
McArthur Dairy milk is sold in major grocery chains like Walmart and U.S.-based Publix.
Publix has suspended deliveries from the dairy farm, and a spokesperson for Walmart said they were working with their suppliers to investigate the issue.
“This video is hard to watch. We take animal rights seriously and have strict policies in place to hold our suppliers accountable,” Walmart spokesperson Molly Blakeman told the Palm Beach Post.
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