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Colorado dairy calf facility may face animal cruelty charges

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On Nov. 13, 2013 at 11 a.m., the nonprofit Compassion Over Killing (COK) released an undercover video that revealed severe abuse to calves. Regarding the release of the video, COK stated, “The footage depicts egregious abuse including young animals—some of whom still have their umbilical cords hanging from their bodies—being violently dragged by their ears and legs, lifted by their tails, kicked, thrown, slammed, and flipped.” COK is calling for criminal animal cruelty charges against the Kersey, Colo. company Quanah Cattle Co., which is a Colorado calf-raising facility owned by J.D. Heiskell & Co.

COK revealed that animal handling specialist Dr. Temple Grandin of CSU condemned the cruelty in the video calling it “‘severe abuse,’ and noting that ‘If this facility had been a slaughter plant, the USDA would have shut them down.’”

Whistle-blowing is often the only way that animal cruelty is revealed. “Rather than taking steps to prevent these abuses,” stated COK, “animal agribusiness is trying to prevent consumers from finding out about them by lobbying for ‘ag-gag’ laws that would criminalize undercover investigations—and the mere exposure of the truth.” Ag-gag laws make it illegal to photograph or film an agricultural operation without the owner’s consent or to gain agricultural employment. The dilemma with ag-gag as pointed out by journalist Will Potter is that it abridges the First Amendment by attacking activists and journalists. In an article by Jeff Zalesin for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Potter stated, “Ag-gag puts my sources at risk of prosecution for speaking with me or providing me their footage. No journalist should have to choose between not reporting a story that is of national concern and putting a source in jail.”

Executive Director of COK Erica Meier stated, “The meat and dairy industries are desperate to keep Americans in the dark about their routine abuse of animals. Once consumers discover the painful reality of how violently farmed animals are typically treated, it’s impossible to turn a blind eye—and leaving meat and milk out of our diets is an easy way to prevent such cruelty.”

After COK turned over their evidence to local authorities, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office agreed to launch an independent investigation.

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