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June 09, 2010

Talk Back: Cries for Cows

Today I post your comments on two undercover investigations that have exposed disturbing treatment of farm animals—dairy cows, specifically.

First, on Friday I reported that two former plant workers at Bushway Packing, Inc. in Vermont, who were captured on video by an HSUS undercover investigator shocking, kicking and dragging newborn calves who were too weak to stand, have been charged with animal cruelty. Many of you had been following the case since we released the undercover footage in October and you were glad to hear of this development:

I had been hoping for this!!! A little more justice for the weak! When I read Wayne's blog in October I was totally appalled that someone could inflict such pain and brutality on these poor little defenseless newborn calves that had already gone through so much, being separated from their mothers and subject to the most distressing conditions. … HSUS and Wayne, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful work; every day we are getting more and more successful at defeating cruelty and promoting awareness and compassion. —Romina Roddy
Thank god for stronger action, and shutting the place down. More and more, all of this needs to be exposed, people arrested, and the animals protected. —Lisa Lamonica
It is wonderful this place is closed down, but I still cannot understand how crimes such as this with such abuse and needless suffering are treated with so little punishment! I do not understand the mindset of people that could kill a baby animal and much more abuse it so badly after a few days of life and then end it with such traumatic acts. This is just another tip of the iceberg. I shudder to think of all the others doing similar acts that have not been exposed as of yet! You do not have to be an animal advocate nor a vegetarian, but have a modicum of compassion for living, breathing, pain-feeling animals! —Deborah Sbranti
First of all, I have never eaten veal because I couldn't stomach knowing baby calves were being killed for my dinner plate. This story is disturbing in so many ways. Thank goodness for the brave people who go into these slaughter barns and have the strength of mind to film the atrocities that are happening to innocent animals who are born to be killed. —Nancy Ball

Thank you so much for your outstanding accomplishments to end animal abuse in this area. It's so good to hear that the Bushway plant was closed down. I'm glad to be able to donate to the HSUS because I feel that I am helping to stop some of the horrific cruelty that would still be going on if it wasn't for your determined efforts. —Betty Holden

I’ve also received a flood of comments in response to my blog about the Mercy for Animals investigation released in late May that showed several employees, including farm owner Gary Conklin, beating cows at Conklin Dairy Farms in Plain City, Ohio. While the young man seen in the video performing the most disturbing acts of abuse now faces 12 counts of animal cruelty, in addition to a felony weapons charge, Ohio’s anti-cruelty law unfortunately does not allow for felony-level charges for farm animal abuse, no matter how malicious the act.

Image from Mercy for Animals investigation at Conklin Dairy Farms in Plain City, Ohio
Mercy for Animals

While Ohio needs to upgrade its anti-cruelty law to better deter those who would engage in this kind of malicious torture of farm animals, we also need to create new laws in the state in order to prevent some of the most abusive—yet standard—practices in the agribusiness sector, such as confinement of hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates, and calves in veal crates. Please visit to learn more about how you can help in that effort.

Among your reactions to the Ohio investigation:

What kind of person takes delight in doing this to contained or otherwise restrained animals? DAIRY COWS? Only a sad, sad, sick individual could possibly assault one of the most non-aggressive and peaceful icons of American farm life. —Stella Pope
If this behavior cannot be treated as a felony then something is desperately wrong with the ethical and moral underpinnings of the legislature of the state of Ohio. … I hope that the video is widely seen in Ohio and will cause the public to seek justice and changes for the animals. —Brian O'Neill
I'm so angry and sickened that this is what people are capable of—these animals provide us with food and this is how we repay them? We have to demand better treatment of farm animals… —Dingosbaby
The treatment on the video of the cows and calves on the Ohio farm is the most despicable thing I've ever seen. As someone who lived with cows, calves, horses, dogs, goats and chickens, I know the animals have the same feelings that we do and NEVER should be treated with anything but compassion and love… —Susan
I am sickened by what I just viewed. I adopted a vegetarian lifestyle two years ago after learning about the abuse and neglect on factory farms. … I pray every day for mercy for animals who cannot escape the hell they have been put into. It just doesn't make sense to me why they treat these animals so horribly; they are sentient beings and did not deserve what was done to them. —Les
I would like to express my outrage to Conklin Dairy Farms and request that they explain themselves to the people that help keep them in business. There is no way no one else knew that this was going on at that farm. I work in an office and I understand how gossip is in the workplace. I would also like for them to explain how they plan on making sure this does not happen again. —Amaridis Moore
Never, ever do these videos get any easier to watch nor does the level of animal abuse get any easier to understand. I have family in Ohio and the good people need to step up and put an end to this cruelty. We have slid so far down the slope of indifference in this country that animal advocates have a "fight" at every turn. Keep up the good work HSUS. —Lois Silvanovich
I am an Ohioans for Humane Farms volunteer and county coordinator, and have collected nearly 700 signatures to date. I share my disgust and horror at the images in this video. … Wayne, and all those at HSUS, please do not let this go—we need to "keep the pedal to the metal." Of course, I hope that if we can get the ballot measure passed, it will finally begin to provide much needed reform for farm animal welfare legislation in Ohio. —Richard Sheer

I wonder how many other people felt physically sick when watching the Mercy for Animals undercover footage. I sat at my desk crying for hours. Then I went on Twitter and found a whole bunch of people—some farmers, some ag writers for local papers—defending modern farming practices and condemning the HSUS. I emailed these people, and politely explained why I supported the HSUS and why THEY should too. I wish more people would join me in making their voices heard. I think that collectively, people who love animals are not making enough waves. I think we're too passive, sorry to say. We let the misery of the situation overwhelm us. Everyone who is reading Wayne's blog has a role to play in helping animals. Speak up please. Even if you get shot down in flames by animal haters and people who like to ridicule, speak up. Wayne does and we need to add our voices, collectively become more powerful, because it's all about the animals. Our silence does not help them one bit. —Bonnie Shulman

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