Christensen Farms complaint

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Last Chance for Animals' complaint against Christensen Farms.

Transcript of Christensen Farms complaint

August 3, 2015 Evan Verbrugge Rock County Sheriffs Office 1000 N Blue Mound Ave., PO Box 613 Luverne, Minnesota 56156 T: 507-283-5000 E: evan.verbrugge@co.rock.mn.us VIA: EMAIL Re: Petition for Investigation and Enforcement of Minnesota Cruelty to Animals Act at Christensen Farms Dear Sheriff Verbrugge: I am writing to direct your attention to recent conduct in Luverne, Minnesota, witnessed and documented by a representative for Last Chance for Animals (LCA), which constitutes violations of Minnesota Cruelty to Animals Act 343.20-343.37. As detailed in the complaint, Petitioners request that your office investigate and commence enforcement against Christensen Farms' management and employees for the mistreatment of animals in violation of Minn. Stat. Ann. 343.21 (West 2015). Please send any communications regarding this complaint to my attention:Last Chance for Animals C/O Zeynep Graves 8949 W. Sunset Blvd. 3rd Fl Los Angeles, CA 90069 T: 310.745.7176 E: zeynepg@lcanimal.org Respectfully submitted, Zeynep Graves, Esq. Last Chance for Animals Zeynep GravesI.INTRODUCTION From March 30, 2015 to July 30, 2015, LCA initiated a survey of Christensen Farms Barn C-12 ("Christensen Farms"), a breed-to-wean facility, located at 1648 50th Ave., Luverne, Minnesota 56156. An LCA witness documented an ongoing pattern of animal cruelty and neglect while employed by Christensen Farms. LCAs investigative findings, consisting of daily observations with detailed written reports as well as extensive video documentation, are summarized in this complaint.The evidence indicates a pattern of cruelty and neglect by Christensen Farms farm manager, Jeff Moser, and employees. Sows with severe injuries are forced to walk various distances, sometimes dragging their exposed internal organs along the ground, before being euthanized. Workers punch, kick, prod and strike sows out of frustration. Improper medical treatments and failure to promptly euthanize pigs suffering from debilitating illness and injuries typically results in a slow deterioration pigs health until death. The attached industry guidelines unequivocally show that the conduct documented herein falls far below the parameters of usual and accepted animal husbandry standards and is willfully cruel and neglectful. The conduct of Christensen Farms manger and employees evidences clear incidents of poor farm management and animal mistreatment, revealing callous indifference to the pain and suffering experienced by animals under their care and a complete disregard for animal welfare. Enclosed are declarations provided by the LCA witness and edited video footage that contains examples of violations of Minnesota law. The LCA witness is available to assist your office upon request and at your convenience.LCA respectfully requests that the Rock County law enforcement promptly investigate the allegations described herein against farm manager Jeff Moser and employees Rodney (aka "Rod") Kuehl, Tanner Vander Waal, Jamie Davis, and Kayla Humphrey for their mistreatment of animals and indifference to Minnesota animal cruelty laws. The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Statement of Principals state that "[a]nimal cruelty, both active and passive, is a crime of violence, and as such requires a prosecutor's full attention."1 We are confident that you will share our concerns about the abuse of animals and will help stop these practices by holding the culpable parties responsible for their violations of state law.The criminal acts by Christensen Farms' manager and its employees are detailed below.

1 Animal Cruelty, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, http://www.apainc.org/programs/animal-cruelty/ 3 II.MINNESOTA LAW A.MINN. STAT. ANN. 343.21 Mistreating Animals Minn. Stat. Ann. 343.21 (West 2015) provides in relevant part: 2 Subdiv.1.Torture-Nopersonshalloverdrive,overload,torture,cruelly beat, neglect, or unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate, or kill any animal, or cruellyworkanyanimalwhenitisunfitforlabor,whetheritbelongsto that person or to another person.Subdiv. 2. Nourishment; shelter - No person shall deprive any animal over whichthepersonhaschargeorcontrolofnecessaryfood,water,or shelter. ... Subdiv.7.Cruelty.-Nopersonshallwillfullyinstigateorinanyway furtheranyactofcrueltytoanyanimaloranimals,oranyacttendingto produce cruelty to animals.Acts of "torture" and "cruelty" are defined as "every act, omission, or neglect which causes or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death."3 Animal is broadly defined as "every living creature except members of the human race."4

Although neglect resulting in animal mistreatment is an offense in violation of Minn. Stat. Ann. 343.21, subdiv. 1, neglect is not specifically defined in the Minnesota Cruelty to Animals Act. In the absence of a definition, statutory language should be construed according to common and approved usage.In the context of vulnerable adults, neglect is defined in Minn. Stat. 626.5572 as: (a)Thefailureoromissionbyacaregivertosupplyavulnerableadult with care or services, including but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision which is: (1) reasonable and necessary to obtain ormaintainthevulnerableadult'sphysicalormentalhealthorsafety, consideringthephysicalandmentalcapacityordysfunctionofthe vulnerableadult;and(2)whichisnottheresultofanaccidentor therapeutic conduct. In the animal cruelty context, North Dakota defines neglect as:thefailuretoprovide:(a)foodandwater...;(b)minimalprotectionfrom adverseweatherconditions,asappropriateforthespeciesandthebreed;

2 See Ex. A. 3 Ex. A, Minn. Stat. 343.20, subdiv. 3. 4 Ex. A, Minn. Stat. 343.20, subdiv. 2.4 and (c) Medical attention in the event of an injury or illness, as appropriate for the species and the breed.5

In Iowa, someone commits the offense of livestock neglect if they do any of the following:(a) Fails to provide livestock with care consistent with customary animal husbandry practices; (b) deprives livestock of necessary sustenance. (c) Injures or destroys livestock by any means which causes pain or suffering in a manner inconsistent with customary animal husbandry practices.6

The above definitions have three common elements: (1) a failure to provide; (2) necessary sustenance (including food and water); and (3) appropriate care, including medical or veterinary care. In accordance with the above analysis, the prohibition on neglecting an animal in Minnesota arguably includes the failure to provide necessary sustenance and appropriate care, including veterinary care.Animal mistreatment by torture or neglect, in violation of 343.21, subdiv. 1, and mistreatment by deprivation, in violation of 343.21, subdiv. 2, are arguably strict liability offenses.7 Animal mistreatment by cruelty, in violation of Minn. Stat. 343.21, subdiv. 7, requires proof that that the violator willfully acted, failed to act or neglected to act on behalf of an animal in a manner that caused unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering. In misdemeanor statutes, the term willfully denotes an intentional, as opposed to accidental, act.8 The Minnesota Court of Appeals states that an act is willful if:itisnegligentandsofarfromaproperstateofmindthatitistreatedin many respects as if it were so intended. A person has acted willfully if that actorhasintentionallydoneanactofanunreasonablecharacterin disregard of a known or obvious risk that is so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow, and which thus is usually accompanied by a conscious indifference to the consequences.9 There are no exemptions to Minnesota's animal cruelty laws. Accordingly, the Minnesota Cruelty to Animals Act directly applies to the numerous offenses detailed below and included in the attached evidence. These offenses constitute misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors under Minnesota law:

5 ND ST 36-21.2-01. 6 Iowa Code 717.2. 7 See Ex. B, State v. Crume, WL 1182474 (Minn. Ct. App. 2000) (rejecting the defendant's claim that a culpable negligence element should be read into the statute).8 Ex. B, State v. Schramel, 581 N.W.2d 400 (Minn. Ct. App. 1998). 9 Ex. B, State v. Dokken, Unpub. LEXIS 828 (2013 Minn. Ct. App. 2013), citing State. v. Cyrette, 636 N.W.2d 343, 348 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001) (internal citations omitted).5 Exceptasotherwiseprovidedinthissubdivision,apersonwhofailsto complywithanyprovisionofthissectionisguiltyofamisdemeanor.A person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of subdivision 1 or 7 within five years of a previous violation of subdivision 1 or 7 is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.10

III.VIOLATIONS OF MINNESOTA CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ACT A.Animal Mistreatment by Cruelty at Christensen Farms The following section outlines a number of willful acts of cruelty, in violation of Minn. Stat. Ann. 343.21, subd. 7. These acts include: workers forcing sows with severe injuries to walk before being euthanized; workers kicking, punching and striking pigs; a worker admitting to anally penetrating a sow with a gate rod; workers dragging sows by their ears and snout; and workers failing to properly euthanize piglets. 1.Workers force sows with severe injuries to walk before being euthanized When a decision is made to euthanize a pig, proper procedure at Christensen Farms is to carry out the euthanasia immediately.11 This protocol reflects the principles outlined in the National Pork Board's Swine Care Handbook, which defines euthanasia as "a humane death occurring without pain or distress" with a goal of causing a quick and painless death.12 In order to minimize pain and distress, standard protocol necessitates that animals suffering from a severe injury be euthanized where they are found. Examples of severe injuries in pigs include broken bones, bleeding gashes or deep, visible cuts, pressure sores, and prolapses "larger than a baseball or dark in color and necrotic. 13 Instead of followin