Livestock house video draws animal cruelty charges

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SANTA ANA, Calif. –  Prosecutors have filed animal cruelty charges against the owner and seven employees at a Southern California livestock auction house after undercover video shot by an animal rights group showed workers kicking, hitting and tossing the animals as they were readied for sale.

The grainy video, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press and shot by the Los Angeles-based group Mercy for Animals, shows workers at Ontario Livestock Sales in Ontario, Calif., kicking and stomping on pigs to get them to move through a narrow chute, hitting emus with a baton and slinging baby goats by the neck and hind legs. In one shot, two workers drag a sick sheep that can’t walk by its ears and heave it into the back of a van.

Prosecutors have filed a total of 21 misdemeanor counts against the owner, Horacio Santorsola, and seven employees after conducting further investigation with the help of the Inland Valley Humane Society, said Reza Daghbandan, a prosecutor with the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office.

The defendants, who are not in custody, have a July 20 court date and face a maximum of a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted, he said.

Santorsola, 73, said the case was exaggerated and he and his employees had done nothing wrong.

He has not been cited once in the 18 years he’s owned the business, he said, and grabbing animals by their necks and legs is necessary because they are not tame.

“I think it’s a bunch of crap,” Santorsola said. “How are you going to pick them up? They don’t have a leash. They run, believe me, they do run.”

The video was taken earlier this year over a seven-week period by an undercover investigator using a buttonhole camera, said Matt Rice, director of investigations at Mercy for Animals.

Prosecutors relied on the help of veterinarians to determine which actions crossed the line into criminal behavior, Daghbandan said.

“This isn’t the same standard of care as a house pet would get … but we felt comfortable that these instances went too far,” he said.

Animal handling experts who reviewed the footage called the treatment of the animals, which include emus, pigs, goats, sheep and cows, “brutally improper.”

“If they were to do this to a companion animal like a dog or a cat, everyone would jump up in outrage,” said Holly Cheever, a veterinarian and expert witness in animal cruelty cases who is also vice president of New York State Humane Association.

Cheever said in one shot, a cow appears to be suffering from a prolapsed uterus and is bleeding.

“Even food animals are supposed to be given proper care and protection from abuse and this is very clear cut abuse,” she said. “The dragging of the downed animals, the tossing of the baby animals onto the floor, leaving them gasping and dying: It’s hard to choose any one aspect because it’s pretty unpleasant from beginning to end.”

A website for Ontario Livestock Sales says the family-owned business 40 miles east of Los Angeles holds auctions every Tuesday and handles horses, cattle, goats, hogs and exotic animals. The facility, which was founded in 1936, sells 1,000 to 1,300 animals every week, according to its website.

Mercy for Animals has filmed at livestock facilities around the U.S., including footage at a poultry farm that last year led Target and McDonald’s to drop their egg supplier after undercover footage showed hens packed into cramped cages, male chicks being tossed into plastic bags to suffocate and workers cutting off the tips of chicks’ beaks.

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Livestock Auction Atrocities – Under Cover Investigation

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California Livestock Market Abuse Exposed

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.


Published on 30 May 2012 by 

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:

  • “downed” animals – those too sick or injured to even stand or walk on their own – being left to slowly suffer and die without food, water or veterinary care;
  • sick, injured and dying animals being kicked, pushed and dragged into transport trucks to be sold and slaughtered for human consumption;
  • workers throwing, beating, stomping on and kicking animals in the face and body;
  • baby goats being carelessly picked up by their necks and then kicked or tossed around;
  • workers grabbing, dragging and throwing animals by their heads, necks, ears, horns, tails, and legs; and
  • birds stuffed into bags and goats, sheep and other animals overcrowded into small pens, forcing animals to stand on and even trample each other.

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.

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Connecticut horses rescued from cruelty, neglect to be auctioned off Saturday

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OMG…auctioned off??  These poor horses have gone through hell only to be auctioned off, I think it’s disgusting. If anyone wants a horse they usually go through the right avenues if they are of an equine background…the only people at these types of auctions are killer buyers because the horses are worth more dead than alive…This has made me so bloody angry!!!”

HARTFORD — Ten horses that were rescued from situations involving cruelty and neglect will be sold at a weekend auction.

The rescued and rehabilitated animals have been cared for at the Department of Agriculture’s Second Chance Large Animal Rehabilitation Facility at the York prison in Niantic.

State agriculture officials say the horses are rehabilitated back to good health. The horses have current vaccinations and health certificates. Each has a microchip for identification.

A minimum bid set by the Agriculture Department will be $200.

The auction is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the University of Connecticut Horse Arena in Storrs. The sale preview will begin at 11 a.m.

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Undercover investigation into horse meat trade – Animal Aid Video

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“I can only comment on what I would want for my horses, if injured, ill or so old, putting it to sleep would be the kindest thing. That’s an injection by the vet…whilst I am holding the horse head in my lap, stroking it gently & whispering in its ear,  how it is going to join lots of other horses; over Rainbows Bridge.

I am fortunate that I have never been put in that situation in all of my 40+ years of owning & loving horses.  Ponies I have grown out of, or horses not suitable, have gone to other horse owners I know, in & around where I live.  I have & never would take my horse to the horse auctions, you can’t be sure anyone is who they say they are at the auctions.  I have been plenty times & seen killer buyers filling up their trucks with beautiful horses; I always leave heartbroken & in floods of tears. That’s apart from the time I came home with my little rescued colt, Bengie, but that’s a whole different story!

The difference between the owners on the video & owners like myself is that we don’t love our horses & would never part with them unless forced, then it’s a dignified end. Our horses are part of the family, just like a dog just a bit bigger! People in the business, i.e. riding schools, competition horses or ex race horse owners, are not attached to their horses, period!. Their horses are mealy business tools, to make money from. When they cease to make money, they don’t want the horse & don’t want to have to pay for it’s upkeep.  Anyone of those horses would cost over £300 a week in livery fee’s, food etc. apart from riding school ponies, from my experience, they are usually turned out all year to keep cost’s down but when their not wanted, they still want a return on their investment.

Having said all the above, I believe a bullet in the right place is far better than a bolt gun. Bolt guns were designed for bovines not equines, their brains are set further back in the skull. Which is why a horse can regain consciousness after a bolt gun, whilst being hoisted up & having their throats cu…so they feel everything…putting a horse through that, is just cruel & heartless!.”

Published on 3 May 2012 by 

Undercover video showing the killing of horses for the meat trade. Visit for all the details.

Abused Animals to be Auctioned

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“It breaks my heart to say this, but I can only think of one type of buyer who is profiting in this agricultural crisis, thus has the money to buy 55 horses & 20+ cows….killer buyers for slaughter houses…I sincerely pray I am wrong!!”

Sgt. James Savage says this economy is leading to record abuse cases involving neglected horses and other livestock.

Savage says they are also seeing more people neglect their pets; but that problem isn’t as visible, so it often goes unreported. He urges people to contact police if they believe someone isn’t feeding or properly caring for his pets. “Absolutely, animal abuse and animal neglect is a crime. It’s a misdemeanor and can be up to a felony depending on the severity of it, and we rely on people like that who see their neighbor not taking care of an animal. That’s how a lot of these cases get generated.”

In a record animal abuse case in Crook County; soon the County will auction off 55 horses and 20 plus cows to one buyer.

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