Three men working at the Quanah Cattle Company about 60 miles north of Denver were charged with animal cruelty on Friday by Weld County Sheriff John Cooke. If convicted, each man will be jailed for six to 18 months and fined $500 to $5,000. The three local men also lost their jobs.
They are charged with animal abuse as documented by an undercover video producer working for Compassion Over Killing, a national animal-rights group. The video shows the accused men kicking and tossing young calves off a trailer, and it was quickly condemned by animal experts in industry and academia. Colorado’s dairy and livestock industries condemned the abuse even before Cooke’s deputies completed their investigation.
Sheriff Cooke, who went from 20 years on a dairy farm to a career in law enforcement, told a press conference that his reaction to seeing the video was one of “shock,” and that he personally found the treatment of the calves “totally unacceptable.”
The Greeley Tribune reports the three accused men were hired by Quanah through an unnamed temporary agency. Prior to the incident, Weld County’s farm and ranch community has complained about the difficulty it has in attracting qualified employees while the area is also in the midst of an oil-and-gas boom.
In addition to firing the three suspects, J.D. Heiskell & Co., the California-based owner of the Quanah Cattle Company, issued a statement saying the firm was “dismayed” by the images and promising to step up supervision and training of its employees. Its new Weld County operation is permitted to handle up to 15,000 head in the Holstein calf-raising facility.
The three men being charged are Larry Loma, 32, from Greeley; Ernesto Daniel Valenzuela-Alvarez, 34, of Easton, and Tomas Cerda, 33, of Greeley.© Food Safety News