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Tougher Policies Sought after Video Exposes Cruelty to Cows

PHOTO: A dairy supplier for an Ohio cheese company is shown kicking a cow in an undercover video shot on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Photo courtesy of Mercy for Animals.
PHOTO: A dairy supplier for an Ohio cheese company is shown kicking a cow in an undercover video shot on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Photo courtesy of Mercy for Animals.
November 14, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A newly released video exposes the mistreatment of cows at a dairy that supplies milk to an Ohio cheese company. Animal activists say it highlights the need for better policies to prevent animal abuse.

Matt Rice, director of investigatons for Mercy for Animals, said one of the group's investigators wired with a hidden camera documented egregious abuses at Andrus Dairy in Wisconsin, "including workers kicking and punching cows, stabbing them with sharp objects, dragging them with sharp ropes around their necks and just other horrific acts of animal abuse."

Great Lakes Cheese, based in Ohio, purchases what it described as a small amount of cheese from Mullins Cheese in Wisconsin, which in turn gets a portion of its milk from Andrus Dairy. Great Lakes Cheese said it condemns the actions shown on the video and will no longer accept any cheese made with Andrus Dairy milk.

The investigation also uncovered the practice of "tail docking," where pruning shears are used to cut a cow's tail off by cutting through the tail bone. Rice said it's a common practice in the industry, although it's banned in a couple of states and also will be illegal in Ohio starting in 2018.

"Our investigations in the past have led to some of the largest companies in the world including Kraft and Nestle to prohibit tail-docking in their entire diary supply chains," Rice said. "There's no reason Great Lakes Cheese can't do the same."

Rice said it isn't an isolated incident, adding that similar abuses have been uncovered at undercover investigations at dairy farms across the country. In the Andrus Dairy case, local investigators said they won't press charges, but will give a warning to the facility's owner.

Rice said his organization believes any abuse should be prosecuted.

"All of our other dairy investigations have led to criminal prosecutions and convictions of workers and owners who are caught on video abusing animals," he said. "So, we are disappointed, but I think that highlights the need for the industry to implement policies and oversight to prevent these abuses in the first place."

Since the video's release, the owner of Andrus Dairy said the company is shocked by the behavior it shows and will implement procedures to prevent animal abuse.

The video is online at gotmisery.com.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH