Cruelty Law Enforced in Wyoming

27 December 2012, at 1:32am

US - Nine people have been charged with animal cruelty at a pig farm in Wyoming following an undercover investigation by an animal welfare organisation.

In a statement, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has applauded the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Platte County Attorney's Office for charging nine employees, including two managers, at Wheatland-based Wyoming Premium Farms with cruelty to animals following an HSUS undercover investigation. The investigation documented workers kicking, punching and swinging pigs and piglets. At the time of the investigation, which was released in May, Wyoming Premium Farms was supplying pigs to Tyson Foods - the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork.

Wyoming Premium Farms' Assistant Manager, Shawn Colson, was charged with seven counts of animal cruelty. Others charged with cruelty include Bryan David Bienz Jr. (two counts); Kali E. Oseland (four counts); Edward Raymond (Jake) Pritekel (three counts); Richard Pritekel (four counts); Kyla Erin Adams (two counts); Steve Perry (three counts); Jarrod Barney Juarez (two counts) and Patrick D. Rukavina (three counts). An animal cruelty conviction in Wyoming carries a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

The HSUS investigation and information provided to law enforcement had documented rampant animal abuse at Wyoming Premium and showed workers kicking live piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles by their hind legs, striking mother pigs with their fists and repeatedly and forcefully kicking them as they resisted leaving their young.

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Platte County Attorney's Office for their serious attention to cruelty to animals, including animals raised for food," said Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty response for The HSUS. "We are thankful that Wyoming has laws in place to address this senseless cruelty, and we hope that law enforcement's action will deter further abuse on factory farms."

In addition to the cruelty that led to criminal charges, HSUS says its investigation also shows the extent of the misery endured by breeding pigs, who were confined day-and-night in small, metal cages called gestation crates, which virtually immobilise the animals for nearly their entire lives. Gestation crates, used throughout Tyson Foods' supply chain and defended by pork industry groups such as the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council, have come under fire by McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Oscar Mayer, Jimmy Dean, Sysco and nearly 50 other leading food companies. Veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers, and scores of compassionate citizens have come out against this cruel practice.

In addition to adopting stronger protocols to deter and eliminate animal abuse at the hands of workers throughout their supply chains, Tyson and other companies and pork industry trade associations that still contribute to this type of abuse, must develop plans to get these inhumane cages out of their operations, adds HSUS.

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