AVMA condemns recent dairy cow abuse

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AVMA logo The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) strongly condemns recently released video showing the inhumane treatment of cows at a California slaughterhouse and is calling for stricter adherence to humane animal handling guidelines and standards.

The AVMA labeled the abuse, which includes cows being pulled by their tails, kicked, and repeatedly shocked, as indefensible and deplorable.

“Once again, we are confronted with video showing unacceptable and inhumane treatment of livestock by those responsible for their care,” said AVMA CEO Ron DeHaven, DVM. “We hope that those responsible are brought to justice, and that their punishment will serve as a reminder that this type of abuse will not be tolerated by either veterinarians or the American public.”

The undercover video, taped in June at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., was shot by an animal rights group. Officials from the USDa suspended operations at the facility on Monday, and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is conducting an investigation into the allegations.

In addition to investigating the inhumane and improper handling of cattle by facility employees, and the potential food safety risks associated with that handling, the AVMA urges the USDA to investigate whether or not the USDA-FSIS inspectors at the facility were providing adequate oversight. Anyone complicit in this unacceptable treatment of animals needs to be held accountable.

Gail Golab, DVM director of the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Division, emphasized the association’s zero-tolerance approach toward animal cruelty.

“People working with animals have a responsibility to ensure they are treated humanely; this includes workers on the floor as well as management in the corner office,” Golab said. “They also have a responsibility to stop — and prevent — this type of cruelty toward animals.

“Animal welfare is an AVMA priority, and we have worked hard to encourage the use of sound animal care practices in all types of facilities. Good animal care means making sure that animals are cared for and handled appropriately at all times. The AVMA simply will not tolerate bad behavior toward animals,” Golab said.

The AVMA urges law enforcement authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

The AVMA has long-standing policies addressing the appropriate care and handling of animals used for agricultural production. They are available for review here

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James Blevins    
Florida  |  August, 23, 2012 at 02:55 AM

Why not talk about how the dairy industry abuses these cows, they are the real abusers here, but with all that money they make they can afford to cover up the abuse,All of those cows are a product of the dairy industry. What the American public should be outraged over is why those cows was sent to slaughter after giving their lives to the greedy owner of a factory dairy farm. The whole process of how factory farms treat dairy cows is criminal. And the life expectancy should be 15 years, but they are lucky to live 7. what is wrong with America and the law to allow such a heinous industry to exist?

Rosemary Rich, DVM    
August, 23, 2012 at 11:25 AM

I could not agree more, but what can we do about it?

Todd Clabaugh    
Midwest  |  August, 23, 2012 at 09:22 AM

I am sure that if you would like to purchase all of the Dairy cattle that are no longer producing milk efficiently and put them somewhere to feed them until the expire "naturally" then I am sure the dairy's would be happy to sell them to you. By the way hay in the drought stricken midwest is about $250/ton.

August, 23, 2012 at 11:29 AM

You obviously have no idea what we are talking about here! Come to some slasughter plants and observed first hand the condition of these animals. There is no excuse!

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  August, 23, 2012 at 12:09 PM

And this is exactly the conflict of interests that veterinarians are in. You can't on the one hand "care" for animals while also supervising in their slaughter! The compromises are obvious! It is odd enough that some in the general public consider themselves compassionate while consuming animal products... But for a vet to blindly follow that ugly habit as well is just mind boggling! Let alone consider that these "animal doctors" are also monitors at the blood spilling event! It's absurd! And on the point of these battle-worn dairy cows... How anyone can see and know what their pitiful bodies look like at the end of their "use" and still consume dairy is an tragic mystery! "Good animal care" fails these creatures - Miserably!

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  August, 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Hi Rosemary --- You can do what many people are doing. You can do what my vet did after 2 years of research, checking with her physician and mulling the idea over... Weighing all the negatives in relation to the benefits. She and her family are now vegan. As she put it "I'm truly living as cruelty-free as I can." It's a matter of living the way you know to be ethically consistent. We really don't need to put the poor cows, pigs and chickens through this nightmare. :/

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  August, 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM

If you stopped breeding these dairy "cattle" we wouldn't have this problem to contend with. And you wouldn't have to worry about the expense of hay. How about growing quinoa or amaranth instead --- For human consumption. Both are extremely drought hardy and quite marketable being their high protein content. You don't "have" to be in the cow milk/cow-killing business --- It's becoming less of a sound investment every day!

Michigan  |  August, 23, 2012 at 01:29 PM

Rosemary, you can do what so many of us are now doing - educate yourself, educate others, and explore the options. The human body has no need for cows' milk, or the milk of any other species, other than our own when we are babies. Leaving aside the hotly debated question of whether or not cows' milk is even healthy for us, the mere facts of the horrors cows have to endure to give us something that we don't even need should be enough to convince any empathetic person to give it up. You wouldn't drink your own mother's milk anymore - why drink someone else's mother's milk?