California News

Undercover video: Cows beaten at dairy farm

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shocking new video of alleged animal abuse at a dairy farm in Idaho: Some workers have been arrested on animal-cruelty charges. A Los Angeles-based animal-rights group released the video. Warning: the video is graphic.

The video is disturbing. Workers are seen kicking, shoving and jumping on cows. Others use canes to beat them repeatedly.

The hidden-camera video was secretly recorded during an undercover investigation conducted by Mercy For Animals, a non-profit animal-protection organization based in Los Angeles.

"This is blatant animal abuse that should not be tolerated," said Mercy For Animals Executive Director Nathan Runkle.

The video resulted in the arrest of three dairy workers at Bettencourt Dairies in Hansen, Idaho. The employees face misdemeanor animal cruelty charges and fines of up to $5,000 each.

Bettencourt's dairy operation is the largest in Idaho. The family-owned company provides milk to cooperatives who then turn the milk into bulk cheese that Mercy For Animals says ends up at fast-food restaurants.

In a statement released by Bettencourt Dairies, owners say they are appalled by the video. In the statement they said:

"Because of our commitment to our dairy herd, animal abuse or misuse has a zero tolerance policy and is dealt with as swiftly as possible."

The company says five employees seen in the video have been fired and the video is being shown to all dairy workers to prevent the abuse from happening again.

But Mercy For Animals says that's not enough. The non-profit organization is urging fast-food restaurants across the country to take action against Bettencourt. In Southern California, they want Irvine-based In-N-Out Burger to take a stand.

"There's not a single federal law that provides protection to animals during their lives on factory farms. And that's why it's so important for companies like In-N-Out Burger to have a zero-tolerance policy for animal abuse," said Nathan Runkle.

In-N-Out Burger released a statement in response Wednesday:

"The treatment of the Idaho dairy cows in the video is shocking and completely unacceptable. In-N-Out Burger never has and never will condone such inhumane treatment of animals.

"In-N-Out Burger does not buy its cheese products directly from dairy farms and has no contractual relationship with this dairy. We buy our cheese from a major international cheese supplier headquartered in Wisconsin.

"The dairy depicted in the video is one of numerous dairies that sell milk to a bulk cheese manufacturer which then sells the bulk cheese to multiple cheese suppliers for further processing. In-N-Out Burger buys its cheese from one of these suppliers.

"Here at In-N-Out Burger, animal welfare is extremely important to us. We require every one of our suppliers to meet or exceed all state and federal requirements, including those dealing with animal welfare. We also ensure adherence to our strict contractual requirements by conducting periodic, unannounced inspections of our suppliers. Furthermore, we expect our suppliers to demand the same from their own suppliers.

"We will take appropriate action, up to and including termination of a supplier if we determine that any business in our chain of supply has failed to meet our requirements.

"It is also our understanding that law enforcement authorities have investigated the incidents depicted in the video and that some individuals may have been arrested and charged."

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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