Conklin Dairy undercover video.

Via Gary Smith
on May 26, 2010
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I recently had a chance to interview Nathan Runkle, founder and executive director of Mercy For Animals, one of the nation’s most effective animal advocacy groups.

Little did I know, at the time MFA was involved in perhaps its most important undercover investigation yet.

I’m looking forward to sharing the interview, but first a brief note about this investigation at Conklin Dairy Farms in Plain City, Ohio. The investigation covered a four-week period in which workers were secretly videotaped sadistically abusing dairy cows and their calves.

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Sadly, as much as we’d like to believe it’s a rarity, this is not a case of “bad apples” or an isolated instance of abuse. The abuse captured in this video is typical of all animal enterprises, from factory farms, slaughterhouses, fur farms and vivesector’s labs. Every single time an animal protection organization or animal rights group has been able to infiltrate one of these enterprises, footage of extreme abuse and violence is captured. These industries are notoriously difficult to infiltrate because they don’t want the public to see what goes on within their walls.

(Go ahead, ask a local slaughterhouse or hatchery for a tour.)

The consequences of these undercover investigations are generally a slap on the wrist, a low-level employee losing his or her job and possibly some toothless regulation.

There’s another solution.

These businesses only thrive because we purchase their products. If we stop consuming animal products including animal flesh, dairy and eggs, we undermine these industries at the root. If you think the answer lies in marketing gimmicks used by the industry to make you feel better about your consumption, like “sustainable” and “humane,” get real. Using animals for food, clothing, entertainment or scientific research is inherently unethical, no matter what conditions the animals live under.

The worst thing about a video like this is the shocking reminder that this abuse, violence and cruelty is normal, standard, everyday practice; it is protected by our laws and accepted in our culture, and the overwhelming majority of people in this country support the industries that perpetuate it. And it’s a reminder that the tiny percentage of us who refuse to support these industries are considered freaks.

Photo courtesy of Mikko Alanne


About Gary Smith

Gary Smith is co-founder of Evolotus, a PR agency working for a better world. Evolotus specializes in nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, health/wellness, natural foods and socially beneficial companies. Gary blogs at The Thinking Vegan and writes for elephant journal, Jewish Journal, Mother Nature Network and other publications. Gary and his wife are ethical vegans and live in Sherman Oaks, CA with their cat Chloe and two beagles rescued from an animal testing laboratory, Frederick and Douglass.


20 Responses to “Conklin Dairy undercover video.”

  1. metalbuddha says:

    I'm at a loss for words, other than this makes me sick. Completely disgusting.

  2. Deanna says:

    And furthermore if you are one of the big boys sitting on all the money that comes from this disgusting business you are even worse. You are the lowest form of life and no money can change that!!! Objectifying animals for money is sickening and evil. It's not survival,it's called GREED and you are lower than your twisted view of animals could ever be. They are above you!!! You just don't get it!!!!!!!!

  3. alignbetween says:

    Waylon, I saw your tweet and hesitantly, I watched and cried immediately, before stopping the video, unable to watch any more. On the road to being vegan myself, yet still clinging to "humane", "grass fed", "organic" and "sustainable" for some items, this video sadly reinforces what is known to be a large percentage of reality. We can never be sure. Many of us stop the video or don't watch altogether because we can't bear to see ourselves as part of the chain. Admittedly, we're addicted to animals. I applaud the folks who go undercover to discover and share. It does have an impact.

  4. Aurora Cooney says:

    Thank you Gary, for this article. The first reaction for many people who are consuming these products is to tell you about their uncle's farm where the cows were treated so well and then assume that this is just an isolated situation. We know that is not the case. Many people also assume that the small local farms are better, but udercover look at small family owned farms show animals is various states of neglect. The small farmers are also trying to make a profit from these animals. Very sad the way the industry has duped the public. The best thing you can do is avoid all animal products….go vegan!

  5. Oh, god, that video is brutal. Just tweeted if you want to RT. Have those guys been arrested? Anything?

    I seriously was traumatized by the 20 seconds I managed to watch…went and hugged my dog for awhile, then dreamt about it!

  6. Gary Smith says:

    It's easy to look at the men who perpetrated these crimes as monsters. It helps us to try to understand the heinous acts they committed. The truth is that when we view animals as commodities or property, we take away their sentience. Once we no longer view animals as living beings, we can beat, kill or eat them. The system of producing animals for food creates this violence. As does the support by purchasing and eating animals.

  7. Jo Tyler says:

    What this man did is no worse than the "legal" cruelties we inflict on animals every single day in the name of cheap meat, egg and dairy products. People like to point fingers and say, "Oh – hey – he's the bad guy, just lock him up and it will be fine." No, it won't be fine. The only way to stop this sort of abuse is for consumers to stop buying animal products. Until then, we can't really blame workers for acting like the desensitized, violent, monsters we pay them to become. <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  8. landwight says:

    Who hasn't met a person like these men in their life. You can tell who is capable of this when you see them, meet them truly – if you are awake at all. How does a warrior interact with a barbarian such as these?

    Boycotts, protests, are something, but I don't think accomplish much. The one person I can think of who has accomplished MUCH in the way of alleviating suffering of huge numbers of livestock animals is Temple Grandin – and she did it by working within the system. There are plenty of online interviews with her, and now a movie, if you care to learn. Although the content of this video above is more about the specific sadism of these men, I get frustrated with the "vegan is the only way to go" message – I disagree. It is possible to compassionately kill an animal, a plant. We all take life, let's own up to the fact and practice it consciously and compassionately.

  9. Lorie says:

    I actually live about 20 minutes from this farm and drove it by all the time. I would always see a lot of cows shoved into the small outside areas they have and would feel so bad for them. Now that I have seen this video I am beside words. Unlike the prick in the video who is such a "man" with a very small vocabulary. I have such mixed feelings in the sense that I want to cry for them and at the same time I want to drive right down to Conklin and yell "What were you thinking, and who do you think you are!!" I am acually in the process of going Vegan but I am currently meat free. I have a sensitivity to dairy anyway so it's a natural next step for me. If anyone has tips on the cost aspect of it that would be great. It can be very pricey to buy the alternative in soy as oppossed to regular cheese. I do drink soy milk though. Anyway, I am so completely outraged how do you contain this anger. I am not a violent person at all but but my blood is boiling right now.

  10. Dani says:

    I have seen many disturbing videos like this one and I am still shocked and sickened when I do. I am a vegetarian too and trying to become vegan. I use rice milk…don't like the taste of soy milk. I have used Daiya cheese and have to say it's awesome! Like Gary said, you can make your own cheese. I have not tried making my own yet but have a recipe from my Native vegan cook book. Will have to try. I also have used Tofu and made ricotta from that to make lasagna that was awesome and you would never know it's not really cheese. Vegan is definitley the way to go….save these poor cows from their hell.

  11. Leslie says:

    You know, the idea of asking the public at large to abandon all consumption of animal products is noble and in the end, right, but another layer of consideration takes into account that while that concept will push at an extreme that in turn moves the median a bit – the vast majority will continue to drink milk, eat cheese, buy a burger, and wear shoes… another approach to consider taking in tandem with this, is to support legislation that supports small farms, pulling demand and legislation away from the corporate machine where this standard of care and treatment is the rule, and giving it to small local farms that benefit from healthy happy animals. These farms are, by and large, open to the public (often only closed because of rare breeds and bio-security) and the farmers are happy to explain how things are done.
    Because of mis-education and local laws and ordinances, It's impossible for many people to keep a handful of hens in their back yard for eggs and/or meat – where the birds would be cared for, live lovely happy lives and, if meat birds, experience an end that, in comparison to the large poultry farms, is relatively compassionate. A simple letter to your legislator supporting the rights of small farms, and google for local farms can do even more to directly end this sort of awful scene than trying abandoning the demand train while you can.
    Thank you so much for posting this – the painful stuff is the most important to see… and not looking away from it shows integrity.

  12. Val Mitchell says:

    I can't find a direct link to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, but they're a new board voted in in November and right now they're touring the state taking in feedback on abuse issues as well as other topics (food safety), please if you live in Ohio, call your local TV station and keep the pressure on them to continue to cover this story and get your opinions to this Board, they are rumored to be in the pockets of large Agro/dairy farms, so now more than ever, we need to take a stand for these animals.
    Luckily, from what I've been reading these past few days, the feel around Ohio is that these individuals are NOT true reps of their industry and the speakers (farmers) have been heart broken over what they've seen. Let's hope they keep speaking out against this kind of abuse.
    One way all of us can help stop this- Start cutting out meat and dairy, if you're upset over what you saw, DON'T support the industry. We have control over our lives, unlike those cows, we have the power to correct this, we just have to give up our old habits. No one said it was easy, but living a mindful life isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be mindful. right?
    Thanks for posting!

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