KUSA - 9Wants to Know has learned the Weld County Sheriff's Office is investigating allegations of animal abuse at a livestock company, after an activist secretly recorded workers tossing, kicking and dragging newborn calves.
A non-profit group called Compassion Over Killing posted the video of the Quanah Cattle Company on its website. The group tries to expose animal abuses in the meat production industry, in part, to promote vegetarianism.
"They are keeping these cruelties hidden behind closed doors," said Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing. "We believe consumers have a right to know."
Quanah Cattle Company buys newborn calves from dairy farms, keeps them temporarily in their Kersey facility, then ships them to other cattle companies where they are raised and sold for meat.
The calves "come to this facility, in many cases, too frightened or feeble to walk steadily," Meier said. Most of the video released shows workers forcing the calves into and out of livestock trucks. Some of the video shows what appears to be dead calves, with at least one decomposing. Meier says the video was recorded over a three month period this summer.
Compassion Over Killing also gave the video to the Weld County Sheriff's Office, which is now investigating it as a possible animal cruelty case. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is assisting the investigation.
"As soon as I saw the video, I jumped in my pickup," said Robert Hodgen, a Quanah manager. "I drove out here, and I started the investigation. It appalled me as much as it has anyone else who has seen the video. It's not how we want to conduct ourselves."
Hodgen says he will cooperate with authorities.
"We are doing everything we can to take swift and immediate action," he said.
ANIMAL EXPERTS WATCH VIDEO
"I see lots of rough handling going on, definitely not acceptable," animal handling expert Dr. Temple Grandin said.
Dr. Grandin watched the video. To her, it's clearly the wrong way.
"Pulling by the ears, pulling by the legs and dragging the calf, that is not acceptable. It's rough handling," Grandin said.
At the Sugar Hill dairy farm in Kersey, Ashley Edstrom also watched the video.
"It makes me sick," she said.
Edstrom says it's not the way Colorado dairies should be portrayed, and even more so not how you handle calves.
"It's not at all in keeping with our value system," Edstrom said. "They are small. They are fragile. You don't want to mistreat them or manhandle them."
At Sugar Hill, they even have cameras in pens to avoid these situations.
"We do the best we can here to make sure those people don't work for us,'' Steve Edstrom said.
If you need help exposing abuse, misspending or other wrongdoing, email investigative reporter Melissa Blasius at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 303-437-2083.
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