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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Real Animal Cruelty – Cat Killer Out On Parole

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Inland Empire pet owners have reason to be on heightened alert. Timothy Arie Kooyman, a convicted felon whose crimes include charges of animal cruelty, was recently released on parole from Avenal State Prison in Central California.
“Parolee Timothy Kooyman was released to state parole on May 19, after serving his full sentence for animal cruelty as defined by law,” Luis Patino, a spokesman from the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, told the Weekly. The 28-year old Kooyman was released in San Bernardino County on parole under the conditions of good behavior, and is currently under the “highest level of supervision.”

Timothy Arie Kooyman

In May 2008, Kooyman was arrested by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies in a Rancho Cucamonga neighborhood. A deputy reportedly found two mutilated cats—barely alive—sealed plastic container inside Kooyman’s truck.

He was also charged with one felony count of recklessly causing a fire to a structure or forest, which occurred after Kooyman poured gasoline on a female cat and lit her on fire.

In December 2008, Kooyman changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Then things took a twist when San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus added new allegations against him; the use a dangerous or deadly weapon in committing a felony. Kooyman switched his plea (again) to no contest in April 2009. He was sentenced to Avenal the following July for a two-year sentence, for which he was given credit for time served and good behavior.
But this story does not end here.

 Moyer is angry and concerned that Kooyman will strike again based on his past crimes.

“This is one of the most disgusting, brutal cases I have ever seen,” Moyer tells the Weekly. “This guy is a monster for what he did to those cats. We lobbied at the Riverside DA’s office for over two years, asking [then-DA] Rod Pacheco to conduct his own investigation and consider pressing charges for the three cats in Corona who were tortured [by Kooyman].”
Voices for Pets’ efforts paid off. In 2010 Kooyman was charged with three felonies and one misdemeanor for allegedly torturing and killing cats in April and May 2008 at two Corona motels.

“It’s a shame there is not a law similar to Megan’s Law when it comes to animal cruelty,” he says. “Also, it has been documented that FBI researches into serial killers document [that] the majority of them have a background of cruelty to animals.”

Voices for Pets has been distributing flyers alerting residents and animal rescue organizations about Kooyman’s release. Robyn Hunt, a Southern California representative for the group, forwarded a Corona-specific flyer to the Weekly.

“This guy will not stop killing cats,” Moyer says.

To read this story in full, click here:-

Justice for Valentine: Teen arrested for animal cruelty, arson

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“I am overjoyed the youth that did this has been found, lets just hope he gets what he deserves!  However, this kid will be on the streets again soon; will this sick assault on an innocent animal be his last? Perhaps, perhaps not, so that’s why we need Animal Abuse Registry’s. The authorities need to keep an eye on young ones especially, as many often turn to more heinous crimes as adults!”

LUCERNE VALLEY • As many around her cheered, Valentine, a 10-month-old pit bull found badly abused last month in Lucerne Valley, was too busy playing and healing to even notice that the person officials believe inflicted serious injuries on the small pup had been caught and was finally behind bars. 

“I’m just so thrilled to hear that,” said Briget Meaden, Valentine’s main caregiver at Bear Valley Animal Hospital, when she heard a 17-year-old Lucerne Valley teen had been arrested last week and charged with animal cruelty and arson by the District Attorney’s office. “She’s just such a happy puppy and so full of deep love even though she’s been through so much.”

The teen’s identity has not been released, though San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials did state the 17-year-old is being held at the High Desert Juvenile Assessment and Detention Center.

Valentine was found by Omya California Plant workers on Feb. 9 clinging to life after someone had reportedly beaten and abused the small pup, according to sheriff’s officials. Employees immediately called Sounds of Silent Spirits Rescue and Sanctuary president Regine Fonville for help. Fonville transported the puppy to Bear Valley Animal Hospital, where she’s been cared for since.

“We know that this arrest was really successful because of the outpouring of support immediately by our community and by others throughout Southern California,” said Melissa Bacall, adoption and outreach coordinator with Sounds of Silent Spirits. “We hope the community’s outrage will lead to much stiffer penalties for animal abuse.”

Due to the nature of her injuries — which included a partially severed right front paw, broken left front paw, burns to her face and front legs and a skull fracture — veterinarians did have to amputate Valentine’s right leg. She is currently awaiting a prosthetic, according to Meaden, quickly adding that the surgery hasn’t slowed the young puppy down.

“Sometimes we have to be careful because she just wants to play so much and she still has a splint on,” Meaden laughed. “She’s just such a great puppy and I’m so glad she will be going to a great and loving home.”

Animal hospital staff hope to release Valentine into the care of Sounds of Silent Spirits until the puppy can receive her second prothesis. Valentine will then be put up for adoption, Bacall said.

“We’ve had so many people looking to adopt her, I know she will be going to a loving home,” Bacall stated.

Authorities are not searching for any other suspects in this case, according to Cindy Bachman, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, but anyone with further information is asked to contact Detective Michelle Brand at (760) 552-6800. 

Read earlier story:- Puppy receives outpouring of support after suffering abuse


INJURED PUP: A 10-month-old puppy, known as Valentine, was found in Lucerne Valley with its muzzle tightly wrapped with electrical tape, trauma to its face and skull, a broken paw, sand and small rocks found in its stomach, and a nearly severed right leg, which will undergo amputation soon. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials are looking for those responsible for the dog’s injuries.

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