Livestock auctions across America often serve as the way stations between farms and slaughterhouses for millions of cows, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep and other animals who are raised, bought and sold for slaughter. But how are these animals treated as they await their fate?
A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at a livestock auction in California has revealed an ongoing pattern of cruelty, egregious violence, and severe neglect.
Hidden-camera footage secretly recorded by an MFA undercover investigator working at Ontario Livestock Sales outside of Los Angeles, California, reveals:
California law prohibits auctions from selling or holding "downed" animals who are too sick or injured to walk. Yet, at this auction, these animals were sold, transported and left to suffer and die for extended periods of time. Downed animals are more likely to carry diseases that threaten public health if allowed to enter the human food supply.
Management at this auction witnessed downed animals and even participated in routine violence and cruelty to animals at this facility in clear violation of California law.
Upon reviewing the undercover footage, Temple Grandin, PhD, animal welfare advisor to the USDA, wrote: "The handling was very rough and kicking animals is not acceptable. If this auction had been a federally inspected meat packing plant, they would have suspended inspection and shut them down."
Dr. Bernard Rollin, Distinguished Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, also condemned the operation, stating: "The workers shown kicking, beating, dragging, pummeling, throwing, choking the animals are either totally ignorant of proper animal handling, or, what is more likely the case, are gratuitously unconcerned with the suffering of the animals."
Following the undercover investigation, MFA immediately alerted law enforcement authorities to violations of California’s anti-cruelty laws at Ontario Livestock Sales and presented a detailed legal complaint and meticulously compiled evidence of such violations to the San Bernardino County District Attorney. The evidence demonstrated an ongoing pattern of cruelty, neglect and needless suffering.
As a result of MFA's investigation, and a follow up investigation by law enforcement, seven employees and the auction's owner have been charged with a total of 21 counts of animal cruelty. The case is ongoing.
Sadly, these types of abuses are commonplace at auction houses nationwide. As MFA continues to expose the unconscionable cruelties inherent in animal agriculture, and to diligently pursue justice by aiding prosecutions of animal abusers, consumers still hold the greatest power of all to end the needless suffering and death of farmed animals by adopting a compassionate, vegetarian diet.