Okeechobee (WTFF) — Workers who were caught on video kicking cows in the head and stabbing them with metal rods have launched a criminal investigation into one of Florida’s largest dairy farms.
Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen said that he has assigned an investigator in the case against Larson Dairy.
Publix has already suspended milk deliveries from Larson, saying in a statement that they are “disturbed by the images and shocked by the cruelty toward animals.”
Publix said it has contacted the Florida Department of Agriculture about the alleged abuse, AP reports.
The gruesome video was captured by an investigator with Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), a Miami Beach-based animal cruelty group, who began working undercover at the dairy in August.
“Dairy supervisors and milkers beat, stab and torment dairy cows with steel construction rebar,” the narrator says. “The sharp metal rods pierce and penetrate the cows’ bodies. Kept hidden from tours and visitors to the dairy, the cows are brutalized.”
Three workers were involved, according to the the Okeechobee Sheriff’s office, who has collected the photo/video evidence.
One of the employees was fired already, according to Jacob Larson who said, “We have strict protocols involving animal care and clearly the behavior shown in this video goes against everything we stand for and will not be tolerated.”
The Palm Beach Post reports that Sheriff Stephen said, “I really wish the individuals who recorded the video would have given the video to OCSO at the time, because the abuse probably continued, unnecessarily, up until that time. It was unfortunately publicized before it was ever reported.”
“According to what has been reported, the Animal Recovery Mission had three weeks of undercover investigating they conducted. Had this alleged abuse been brought to our attention, my deputies and detectives could have resolved this issue then,” Stephen said.
Richard “Kudo” Couto, ARM’s founder and lead investigator said Monday the sheriff, an elected official, is trying to shift blame.
Follow ARM on Facebook: facebook.com/animalrecoverymission/