A shocking expose has uncovered unnecessarily brutal treatment of cattle at a large southern dairy. Workers can be seen striking cows with metal rods, kicking them when they’re in their pins, and confining them in brutally tight spaces. Now, the video has prompted a criminal investigation.
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Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen held a news conference Thursday and announced that he would be investigating Larson Dairy, one of the state of Florida’s largest dairies.
Publix supermarkets, headquartered in Florida, has dropped Larson Dairy from their supplier list, which is a massive blow to the dairy. “We are disturbed by the images and shocked by the cruelty toward animals,” they wrote in their statement.
The undercover footage came from the dairy in Okeechobee, Florida. The swampy grasslands around Florida’s largest lake are ideal for cattle, but the cattle seen in the video are certainly not thriving.
“The video, the Daily Mail reports, “was shot by an investigator with Animal Recovery Mission, a Miami Beach-based animal cruelty group, who began working at the dairy in August.”
“Dairy supervisors and milkers beat, stab and torment dairy cows with steel construction rebar,” the narrator says.
“The sharp metal rods pierce and penetrate the cows’ bodies. Kept hidden from tours and visitors to the dairy, the cows are brutalized.”
The treatment of the animals reportedly stemmed from one employee, says owner Jacob Larson. The “unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm,” he said. That employee has been fired.
“We have strict protocols involving animal care and clearly the behavior shown in this video goes against everything we stand for and will not be tolerated,” Larson added.
“The employee involved and featured in the video has been terminated. Further corrective action will be taken if necessary as we continue to analyze the video and conduct an on-farm investigation.”
Larson’s concern for his animals is one element of this story, but he’s also troubled by the release of the video. “We are equally concerned about the manner in which this video was brought to our attention,” Larson said. “Had the ‘undercover’ employee brought this to our attention when it occurred, we may have been able to prevent it earlier.”