KC-based group urged to prevent abuse of livestock

06/23/2014 3:36 PM

06/23/2014 5:26 PM

A national animal rights group is calling on the Kansas City-based Livestock Marketing Association to take steps to prevent ill treatment of animals at sales barns.

On Monday, Mercy For Animals posted hidden-camera videos on its website showing cattle, hogs and other animals being beaten, kicked and dragged by workers at two livestock auction operations in Mississippi.

Both Southeast Mississippi Livestock and Pontotoc Stockyard are members of the Livestock Marketing Association, Mercy for Animals said. The animal rights group, which advocates a vegetarian diet, urged the association to crack down on abuse “by implementing a comprehensive training and auditing program.”

That program, Mercy for Animals said, should include video monitoring systems that stream to the Internet.

Auctions also should ensure that livestock have food and water at all times, as the group’s undercover investigation also showed animals at the two sales barns that were denied feed and drink.

The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) condemned the abuses depicted in the videos. and a spokeswoman said the two auction houses could be expelled from the LMA if they didn’t change their practices.

“There was some inappropriate treatment depicted in those videos,” said Chelsea Good, LMA’s vice president for government and industry affairs. “But it should not be taken as a reflection of the entire livestock marketing industry.”

Good said LMA emphasizes proper animal handling through comprehensive education and training materials, and advocates regular animal handling audits. Some but not all of its members already use video to ensure workers are following proper procedures.

Under Mississippi law, individuals and organizations can bring charges in animal abuse cases by filing sworn affidavits with a court, said Vandhana Bala, general counsel at Mercy for Animals. The group said it was filing 49 counts of animal cruelty against 10 workers at the two animal auctions.

A growing number of states, including Missouri, Kansas, have laws on the books that prohibit restrict groups like Mercy for Animals from such video-recording. Mississippi is not one of them.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738, or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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