Weld County Sheriff John B. Cooke said videographer Taylor Radig is charged with one Class 1 misdemeanor count of animal cruelty “due to her believed participation in the cattle abuse incidents” and alleged negligence for failing to report it in a timely manner.
Taylor’s undercover video showing abuse of calves being off-loaded from a trailer at the Quanah Cattle Company north of Denver was turned over to the sheriff on Nov. 12. After investigation on Nov. 15, three local men hired by the cattle company through a temporary agency to work with the calves were each charged with one count of animal cruelty.
The three men also lost their jobs after being seen in the video pushing and shoving male calves only a few days old from trailers used to collect them from surrounding dairy farms. Animal handling experts condemned the cruelty shown in the video.
After additional investigative work, the sheriff on Nov. 22 filed charges against Radig, who also worked as a temporary employee for Quanah Cattle Company from mid-July to mid-September.
“During her employment at Quanah, Radig compiled many hours of animal abuse footage that was collected on an ‘as needed basis,'” the sheriff said. “The video footage was eventually provided to law enforcement by representatives of Compassion Over Killing approximately two months after Radig’s employment ended with the Quanah Cattle Company.”
Erica Meier, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based animal welfare organization, said the charge against Radig is “unsupported by law” and claimed “it reeks of political motivation fueled by an agribusiness industry that is once again lashing out in desperation to stop undercover investigators from exposing the truth.”
Meier said that the Weld County sheriff was “undermining the integrity of the legal system” with a “shoot the messenger strategy.”
Unlike a half-dozen other states, Colorado does not have a so-called “ag-gag” law. Those measures often require immediate reporting of animal abuse incidents to prevent undercover operators from collecting such evidence over time.
However, Colorado does have animal cruelty laws that are fairly comprehensive in scope, with a history of successful prosecutions. The sheriff points to two animal cruelty statutes as the basis for his charge against Radig.
Compassion Over Killing has not addressed why it took so long to turn their evidence over to law enforcement. The first court appearances over the incident are scheduled for January.© Food Safety News