Second Florida dairy farm accused of animal abuse
A Central Florida sheriff’s office issued arrest warrants Thursday to several employees of a large dairy farm who were caught on undercover video abusing cows, according to news reports.
Last week, Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), a Miami Beach-based animal cruelty investigative organization, published online a video at Larson Dairy Farm in Okeechobee, one of the state’s largest, showing workers beating and kicking cows in their barn.
“The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office received these allegations one week ago. This investigation has been ongoing all week. Today, the lead investigator met with the State Attorney’s Office and presented the evidence thus far. Warrants have been issued and the suspects are actively being sought,” Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michele Bell said in a statement to Local 10.
Meanwhile, the group posted new footage Wednesday from the nearby Burnham Dairy Farm in Okeechobee. In that video, dead cows were piled up in a pasture.
The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.
In the most recent video, a worker is seen force-feeding malnourished cows and their calves in flooded cages. Some of the barn walls, where calves are kept, are shown to have feces and dead cows inside.
Randy and Douglas Burnham, the farm’s owners, told NBC6 they were “appalled.”
“While some of them reflect our struggle in the face of historic severe weather in Florida, we also can’t deny that others reflect a failure of our farm policies and management. We are taking immediate action regarding our employees,” the statement said. “At the same time, we are working with animal care experts in our industry to change our on-farm practices because we need to do better by our customers, our community, and most of all, our animals.”
The video comes a week after the Larson Dairy workers were shown kicking and beating cows with a metal rod. Publix Super Markets announced it was suspending milk shipments last week from Larson.
On Thursday, the supermarket chain said it would also suspend shipments from Burnham.
ARM founder Richard Couto told reporters he was one of two people who went undercover as new hires to capture the video.
“The gaudy images of abuse recorded by the ARM undercover investigator and myself are horrific,” ARM founder Richard Couto said in a statement. “The long-term torture to both mother and calf at the Burnham Dairy will now resonate throughout the world. We at ARM are hopeful that justice will prevail.”