Conklin Dairy undercover video.

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.

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

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Val Mitchell May 28, 2010 3:12am

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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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.