When an animal agriculture facility is caught with workers abusing their charges, the usual routine is to wait until the undercover video is made public and then, maybe after a day or two, fire the offending employees. Last Friday, however, Sleepy Eye, MN-based Christensen Farms was the first to act when it announced the suspension of seven employees while the company investigates possible animal abuse at its Luverne, MN, hog farm. “It is our responsibility and we owe it to our packer customers and consumers to provide uncompromising care to our animals,” Christensen Farms CEO Glenn Stolt said. “There is no place in this industry for individuals who mistreat animals.” Exactly what Stolt was talking about came into focus on Tuesday when the Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals (LCA) released undercover video purporting to show multiple incidents of animal cruelty and neglect, and mistreatment by deprivation. According to a spokesman, LCA conducted the hidden camera investigation at the “breed-to-wean” facility and last week turned the video over to the local sheriff. In a detailed criminal complaint, backed up by its video, LCA claims workers made sows with severe injuries walk, dragged sows by their ears and snouts, and slapped, kicked and stabbed downed sows. In addition, LCA charges that piglets were not properly euthanized and that management failed to euthanize pigs suffering from debilitating illnesses and injuries. LCA’s investigator, Adam Wilson, said he reported his concerns to Christensen Farms management before filing the complaint with the Rock County Sheriff’s office. Bernard E. Rollin, Colorado State University professor of animal and biomedical sciences, reviewed the video at LCA’s request. “This video is without a doubt the most complete documentation of systematic cruelty I have ever seen,” Rollin said. Christensen Farms is one of the nation’s largest integrated pork production companies, with operations in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, and South Dakota. The pork producer employees about 1,100 people at about 50 facilities spread across the states where it operates.
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