This recently posted statement on its website is referring to hidden-camera video released on June 29 by Mercy for Animals, which calls itself a national animal protection organization, that allegedly exposes animal abuse at an Iowa Select Farms facility in Kamrar, Iowa. The facility houses thousands of pigs. The video depicts pigs and piglets suffering from untreated wounds, sows confined in crates and piglets being mistreated, the group charged.
“Iowa Select has a long-standing commitment to animal welfare,” responded Dr. Howard Hill, Iowa Select Farms senior veterinarian. “Training and compliance with our animal-welfare policies is a condition of employment.”
The company is investigating portions of the video that show unacceptable animal handling by a few employees, Hill said. Once the preliminary investigation is complete, Dr. Anna Johnson, animal behavior and well-being researcher at Iowa State Univ., will provide additional consultation to deal with specific actions depicted in the video that do not reflect Iowa Select’s commitment to animal welfare and continuous improvement.
“If this independent review determines that we can make improvement to our animal welfare program and training, we will make such improvements,” Hill said.
If a determination is made that any company employee engaged in activities contrary to the policies they agreed to follow, Hill added, “We will take the disciplinary action as appropriate, including termination of employment, as is provided in our animal welfare policy. This has been done before when a violation of our policies has been identified. We have zero tolerance for violations of our animal welfare policies and those portions of the video that show violations will be dealt with quickly an appropriately.”
Hill said he took an oath as a veterinarian to provide for the care and well-being of animals. “I am deeply troubled that someone would videotape what they believe is animal abuse if they had a chance to report it and stop it,” he added. “Anyone who sees abuse has an ethical obligation to stop it immediately. Iowa Select has ultimate responsibility for assuring animal care on our farms, but videotaping abuse instead of reporting it is indefensible.”