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July 25, 2013

Worker at Wyoming Pork Producer Convicted of Animal Cruelty

Humane Society of the United States undercover evidence leads to conviction

Thanks to evidence provided by The Humane Society of the United States, Jarrod Barney Juarez was convicted of one count of animal cruelty following a trial this week for abusing a piglet at a factory farm that was, at the time of the investigation, supplying pigs to Tyson Foods. Juarez was sentenced to a fine, court costs, a suspended 30 day jail sentence, and six months of probation.

The conviction stems from an investigation by The Humane Society of the United States documenting workers at Wyoming Premium Farms kicking live piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles by their hind legs, punching mother pigs and forcefully kicking them as they resisted leaving their young, among other abuses.

“Rarely do abused farm animals receive some semblance of justice, so we’re pleased with the latest criminal conviction in such a serious cruelty case,” said Leana Stormont, counsel for investigations at The HSUS. “We hope the conviction, taken with the guilty pleas entered by others charged in the case, will deter further abuse of animals on industrial factory farms. We are grateful to Platte County Deputy Attorney Douglas Weaver, the Platte County Sheriff, and the Wyoming Livestock Board for their diligent and thorough response to our cruelty complaint and for ensuring that laws to protect animals are enforced and defendants who abuse animals are punished.”

Six other employees from Wheatland, Wyo.-based Wyoming Premium Farms – Patrick Ruckavina, Richard Pritekel, Edward Pritekel, Kali Oseland, Steve Perry and David Bienz – previously pled guilty to multiple counts of cruelty to animals as a result of The HSUS’ undercover investigation. One plea for Shawn Colson is still pending.

In addition to the individual acts of abuse which led to criminal charges, The HSUS’ investigation also found breeding pigs confined day-and-night in gestation crates, tiny cages that virtually immobilize animals for nearly their entire lives.

Gestation crates, used throughout Tyson Foods’ supply chain, have come under fire by McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Oscar Mayer, Jimmy Dean, Sysco and other nearly 50 other leading food companies, as well as from veterinarians, sustainable farmers, animal welfare advocates, scientists, consumers and others.

Facts

  • Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free. Meanwhile, many traditional family farmers have avoiding using gestation crates for generations.
  • In a 2013 survey by the National Pork Board, 53 percent of pork producers said they do not use gestation crates or plan to stop using them in favor of group housing of sows. 

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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