OKEECHOBEE, FL (WFLA) – Another Okeechobee dairy farm has come under fire this week in the wake of cow abuse allegations.
Video released Thursday appears to show cows being tortured at McArthur Dairy Farms.
The video, filmed by undercover workers from Animal Recovery Mission appears to show cows being buried alive, electrocuted, shot and crushed to death. Employees can also be seen using blowtorches to sear off the hairs of the cows’ udders to sanitize their teats before milking.
“Animals are being beaten with makeshift spears, with razor-sharp pieces of PVC, are being stabbed in the face and the private areas,” ARM founder Richard Couto said at a news conference Thursday.
Okeechobee authorities have arrested three McArthur Farm employees in connection with the allegations. Mario Hernandez, 31, was charged with causing cruel death, pain and suffering, a felony. Fernando Lopez-Cruz, 44, and Naul Dorantes-Garcia, 31, are facing misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals. A warrant is out for a fourth employee.
Southeast Milk, a dairy cooperative that ships and markets their milk, released a lengthy statement in response to the allegations:
As we’ve said, we take these allegations extremely seriously. We have zero tolerance for animal abuse and will make any improvements needed to ensure the health and well-being of all dairy cows. Southeast Milk, Inc. (SMI) continues to take corrective action including holding mandatory management and animal care trainings for all SMI member owners this week,” Southeast Milk CEO Jim Sleper said in the statement. “We are working closely with our members to install or improve video surveillance on their dairies and have accelerated the adoption of the newest iteration of the National Dairy F.A.R.M. Program, which requires even more employee training on farms and stricter requirements for working with veterinarians, among other standards. These actions reaffirm our commitment to our customers and consumers that animal care is our top priority.”
ARM has released several similar undercover videos. Just Wednesday, they shared several images that appear to show employees at another Okeechobee farm, Larson Dairy Farm, abusing and tormenting cows while the owner was present and participating.