The year is soon over and AA investigators have been really hard at work. We have been on the road more than ever before for both farm animal and horse slaughter issues. We are excited to tell you about our work and developments since the summer. And we know how important it is to you that you know what we are finding and what progress we are making to benefit the lives of animals.
The big picture is that there is quite a lot of work for us to do. At auctions in every part of the country treatment of the animals was very disappointing. The handling of old dairy cows at auction was especially dreadful. These animals will be an important focus for us next year. Working with auction owners to establish guidelines and implement employee training programs as we have this year, shows that real, substantive progress is possible.
On the issue of horse slaughter, the bill in Washington has once again stopped moving forward and AA has begun working on a different angle. As you will learn in this newsletter, we are working more directly with the European Union, focusing on consumer awareness, stricter regulations and import conditions. There is solid potential for progress and we will be moving forward in this area in 2010.
We have also focused on the transport of all animals, especially in cases when travel time is in excess of 28 hours, without water, food, or rest. We will continue to expose these situations and show what animals go through on the trailers.
Over all, this has been our busiest year. It is thanks to the generous support of the American public that we have been able to make these journeys and do much needed work. Investigations are already scheduled for 2010. There is so much we want to do and we depend on our faithful donors to do all that we can. Thank you for your amazing support.
Cruelty investigation at Shipshewana Auction in Indiana
Shipshewana auction is located in one of Indiana's largest Amish communities. With around a half million visitors a year, tourism is big business in Shipshewana. AA investigators visited the Shipshewana auction on September 16, 2009. From the catwalk above the pens they filmed a young worker named Richard engaged in a "martial arts style" battle with a goat. The one-sided battle with the hornless goat went on for over three minutes. Whirling and kicking Richard hit the goat repeatedly in the nose, face and head with full force, followed by body blows and fists.
We left the auction greatly troubled but determined. Our investigation proved that the handling of the animals at Shipshewana auction is completely unacceptable
and so brutal that auction workers violate Indiana's animal cruelty laws. IC 35-46-3-12 states that "to unnecessarily or cruelly strike an animal, or to throw the animal against an object causing the animal to suffer severe pain or injury" is animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor.
It seems obvious that Shipshewana employees have not received any or adequate training in the humane handling of animals - or the consequences of violating animal cruelty laws. No supervision by auction management was ever observed, making management at the Shipshewana auction appear equally culpable for negligent and inhumane treatment.
AA has filed a complaint along with supporting documentation of the incident with both state and federal agencies.
AA requested the following:
that auction management and the young worker who violated Indiana animal cruelty laws are prosecuted for animal cruelty.
that the young worker's employment by the auction is terminated immediately.
that auction management has all employees thoroughly trained in the humane and legal handle animals.
that auction management provides adequate supervision of employees to ensure compliance with animal cruelty laws and welfare standards.
What has happened:
AA was notified last week that the employment of the worker has been terminated. Furthermore, auction management has informed the rest of their employees that there is a zero tolerance policy for employees found improperly handling livestock and all employees have received additional training.
|Work at California auctions shows effect|
A very busy but productive round of recent investigations has produced positive results. Training and policy changes have been put into practice at some California auctions as a result of Animals Angels investigations.
AA investigations revealed several California livestock auctions operating with complete disregard for laws enacted for the protection of downer cows. Cows unable to stand were clearly visible to staff and often in high traffic areas. Left to die in the pen, they never received veterinary care despite the requirement for immediate action.
The law is unambiguous. California Penal Code 599f (d) clearly states, "No stockyard, auction, market agency, or dealer shall hold a nonambulatory animal without taking immediate action to humanely euthanize the animal or to provide immediate veterinary treatment."
One especially egregious violator has been the Escalon auction. AA investigators visited August 2008 and again in April 2009, when they noted "The condition of older dairy cows was simply appalling." On both occasions, investigators found downer cows ignored by auction staff, in clear violation of existing state laws.
Documentation in hand, AA filed reports with authorities and met with the State Veterinarian and law enforcement.
The eventual result, after more than a year's continuing follow up, is positive. All employees at the Escalon auction have been trained to understand relevant laws. They have been directed not to let animals suffer and die in the pens anymore. During our last visit in September 2009, we observed that CA law was followed and two downed animals were immediately euthanized. A far cry from our August 2008 and April 2009 observations.
Still of significant concern is the Oakdale auction where in September AA investigators observed a suffering downer cow die after 7 hours in near 100 degree heat - without ever being provided with humane care or euthanasia as the law requires. AA has reported the incident to law enforcement.
One final note: Besides ongoing investigations at these and other locations, Animals Angels has created a straightforward manual for auction markets on the care and handling of downers. Included are relevant laws and corresponding fines. Distribution at high risk auctions is underway.
|AA investigation reveals cruel transport conditions for "Farmer John" pigs|
|AA found that the Los Angeles "Farmer John" slaughter plant owned by Hormel is transporting slaughter pigs long distances, sometimes more than 1,100 miles. AA investigators went to Yuma, Colorado where several intensive farming facilities operate, each barn holding thousands of sows at any one time. These massive farms ship pigs to Los Angeles for immediate slaughter almost every day.
With 4 feet of snow on the ground and temperatures below freezing, investigators followed a truck with "slaughter" pigs loaded onto three decks. A check of the truck's company records revealed that that just one month previously in September, they had been fined $28,120.00 for 37 counts of falsifying duty reports-their driving time
By the time the truck and AA investigators reached Los Angeles, we had observed several areas of concern:
- The solo driver exceeded his legally allowed driving time by 16 hours. Instead of 11 hours, he drove 26 hours and 35 minutes.
- The pigs were confined on the trailer all this time without water.
- The trailer was not equipped with available winter panels and offered the pigs no protection from the elements.
- The pigs were exposed to extreme temperature variations (Temperature at Departure: 30 Degrees Fahrenheit; Temperature upon Arrival: 78 Degrees Fahrenheit) and severe wind chill which is especially cruel for pigs that have been confined in a temperature controlled barn and are not exposed to the elements.
- The driver never checked the condition of the pigs during transport, or checked for downed or injured animals.
- The driver maintained a speed of 80 mph on the icy roads.
- The driver did not drive with the well being of the pigs in mind. His speeding and taking curves too fast caused the animals to be knocked down and become sick during transport (indicated by vomit visible on pigs).
- The lower compartments of the trailer were overcrowded, with pigs on top of each other. Photos show pigs so pressed against the trailer sides that their flesh bulges through the openings.
It is surprising that Hormel, one of the biggest producers of pork products in the country, would knowingly tolerate the negligent, irresponsible and illegal activities observed by AA investigators. Hormel's subsidiary "Farmer John" claims on its website to be guided by "respect for employees, customers and the environment." But we observed a blatant disregard for public safety and animal welfare.
It is especially concerning that the trucking company that had just one month previously been fined over $28,000, is again endangering the nation's highways with overtired drivers. Perhaps a larger fine would better ensure compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Animals' Angels will be urging "Farmer John" to shorten transport times significantly and make appropriate accommodations for outside temperatures. We will also urge that the pigs are not packed and overcrowded into the trailers; and that team drivers, not solo drivers, operate trucks when transport is longer than 11 hours.
Additionally, we have reported the trucking company and the driver to the Department of Transportation.
What can you do?
Tell Hormel Foods that you are very upset about the poor treatment of pigs shipped for their Los Angeles plant and that you will not buy any of their "Farmer John" brand products anymore until the company improves the transport conditions.
You can write/call:
Clougherty Packing LLC
President Greg Longstreet
3049 E. Vernon Ave.
Vernon, CA 90058
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|Animals' Angels works to improve conditions for farm animals. We closely cooperate with law enforcement and government agencies to fight animal cruelty. Our investigators are out in the field nationwide, visiting auctions, feedlots and slaughter plants. |
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