Former Fair Oaks Farms Worker Arrested After New Footage Appears to Show Animal Abuse

June 13, 2019 Updated: June 13, 2019

Three former Fair Oaks Farms workers have been charged with animal cruelty and one has been taken into custody after a new undercover video released June 12 appeared to show employees abusing cows with poles on the grounds, according to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

Animal rights group Animal Recovery Mission, that infiltrated the popular Indiana dairy farm, said its new footage shows workers abusing the farm’s adult cows with poles while loading them into a farm milking carousel.

The group’s new footage of the farm comes a week after it released disturbing undercover footage of workers kicking and throwing calves at Fair Oaks Farms dairies in 2018.

Fair Oaks Farms is a popular agritourism destination about 70 miles south of Chicago, which attracts about 500,000 tourists annually, farm officials said.

Three former workers were charged with animal cruelty and on June 12, one of the three, 36-year-old Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, was arrested on a warrant and taken into custody at the Newton County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez Fair Oaks Agritourism Destination Animal Abuse
Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez was arrested on a warrant and taken into custody at the Newton County Jail on June 12, 2019. (Newton County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The department says U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement has placed a hold on Gardozo-Vasquez.

The three men—Gardozo-Vasquez, Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros, 31, and Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano, 39— were all charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a felony count of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, the office said.

The misdemeanor charges for the beating of animals followed intense public backlash against Fair Oaks Farms, which is also the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium, and lower fat milk.

Cows Hit With Metal Poles

The new footage released Wednesday, June 12, shows the workers striking the adult cows with their hands and metal poles as they attempt to load the animals into a carousel, the animal rights group said. The abuse allegedly broke the tails of some uncooperative cows.

Animal Recovery Mission said the footage shows the “daily mistreatment of the resident farm animals,” and cows can be seen being milked just hours after birth, with the placenta sacs still visible and blood coating their legs.

In contrast, the video also shows a worker leading a group of visitors for a farm tour, and he can be heard telling the group it’s “a joyride for them.”

The new footage was allegedly shot secretly in spring this year, while the two videos released last week were filmed in the second half of 2018 and show different employees, according to Animal Recovery Mission’s director of investigations, AJ Garcia.

Rachel Taylor, spokeswoman for the group, said the newly released footage exposes mistreatment of cows at Indiana’s largest dairy farm.

“They are not showing the public everything that happens,” she told the Indianapolis Star.

After the first videos were made public, Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said in a Facebook post that he took responsibility for the abuse and that the company fired four employees and banned a third-party truck driver who were shown in the calf abuse video.

“I am disgusted by and take full responsibility for the actions seen in the footage, as it goes against everything that we stand for in regards to responsible cow care and comfort,” McCloskey wrote.

Since the shocking behind-the-scenes footage was released, several retailers have pulled Fairlife products from their shelves. These include Chicago-area groceries Jewel-Osco, Strack & Van Til, and Family Express, which operates convenience stores across Indiana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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