Disturbing surveillance video at an Okeechobee, Florida dairy farm which sells and distributes milk to Publix supermarkets has prompted an investigation for cow abuse and cruelty. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen, announced an investigation is currently underway, and stated the focus is on three workers at the dairy operation; criminal charges are likely to filed.
The video and extensive report, released on Thursday morning by Miami based animal cruelty investigative organization, Animal Recovery Mission, (ARM) detailed workers at the Larson Dairy located in Okeechobee brutally kicking cows in the face and body, beating them with metal rods and mercilessly poking them inside of the barn and milking stalls if the cows didn’t immediately cooperate.
“Cows are ridiculed and tormented as they are maneuvered to the milk production lines by the use of electrical prods, withstanding violent and excessive force. Cows are beaten into submission with metal construction rods known as rebar. Undercover agents documented several forms of ‘home-made’ torture tools including a spear-like weapon that is used to repeatedly stab the animal in the ribs, inflicting wounds that are left untreated. They are also beaten over their heads and bodies with these rods… the cows fall to the ground.”
The undercover investigation began in August when an investigator with ARM procured a job milking cows at the dairy and “captured and documented extensive and widespread abuse.” According to Richard “Kudo” Couto, the investigator worked at the farm during August and September, but had to leave when he became ill. The “disturbing and horrific” violence towards the animals went on everyday, and according to reports, the undercover worker was constantly harassed for not picking up metal rebars and beating the cows.
“Every single person including the manager and foreman were beating them to death,” Kudo reported. “It saddens me knowing these cows are still in the hands of such abusers. The unfortunate reality is the abusive practices we found at Larson are a plague across much of the dairy industry.”
Several hours after the video was posted on social media, Publix suspended the purchase of raw milk from the farm which it buys through the dairy cooperative – Southeast Milk.
The farm has been owned and operated by the Larson family since 1947 and has been in Okeechobee County since 1971. The owner, Jacob Larson issued the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened and appalled by the actions in this video, which first came to our attention this morning. The unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm.
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. The employee involved and feature in the video has been terminated. Further corrective action will be taken if necessary as we continue to analyze the video and conduct our own on-farm investigation.
We are equally concerned about the manner in which this video was brought to our attention. Had the “undercover” employee brought this to our attention when it occurred we may have been able to prevent it earlier.
Dairy farmers have the utmost responsibility to compassionately care for our animals and this is not an adequate reflection of how we do that on a daily basis.”
(Photos courtesy of Animal Recovery Mission)
Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.
Did you know that if you want to get updates from a Facebook page, you need to do more than “like” it? To get recent postings in your Facebook feed, you must also hover your mouse over the word “following” and then click “see first” from the drop-down menu. You may want to check back with your favorite pages on occasion because Facebook often changes your settings, no longer having your favorites among those to “see first.”
Video: Graphic – May not be suitable for all viewing audiences. (Absolutely heartbreaking that this is the daily life of a dairy cow .)