Conklin Dairy Farm: NO additional charges

Editor’s Note: Updates to this breaking news story being made. Check back for more.

PLAIN CITY, Ohio — After a month of investigations, accusations and multiple threats of violence and death against its owner and family, officials in Ohio’s Union County say there will be no charges brought against Gary Conklin or his dairy operation, Conklin Dairy Cattle Sales.

The farm has been in the national spotlight since an animal rights organization released undercover footage of alleged abuse in late May. The worker seen committing the abuse, Billy Joe Gregg Jr. of Delaware, was fired immediately upon the farm owner’s review of the tape.

On July 6, the Union County prosecutor announced a grand jury’s decision there is not probable cause for any charges.

Investigation complete

An extensive investigation led to production of a nearly 700-page document and at least four expert reviews of the tape were conducted and their testimony presented to members of the jury. All four reviews were conducted by veterinarians with extensive experience in large animal care.

“As far as we’re concerned, the investigation has been completed,” said County Prosecutor David Phillips. “It was an extensive, thorough investigation by law enforcement.”

The announcement was bittersweet for Gary Conklin, who was still upset about the abusive acts of Gregg Jr.

“We’re very happy that there are no charges but we are still very saddened and upset about what happened here on our farm — about the absolute abuse that was shown in the video,” he said.

Some who viewed the video, shot by Mercy For Animals, said they felt Conklin also abused the cows when he kicked a downed cow to cause her to stand. The organization also has stated that Conklin knew the abuse was happening.

Not so

He refutes both claims, saying he was trying to get the animal to stand for her own good, and that he was away from the barn when the abuse took place.

“It was very important that she get up on her feet or if she didn’t she would have gone down hill and faced certain death,” he said.

Phillips called attention to the fact MFA filmmakers apparently edited the kicking scene, so that it appeared in the middle of their YouTube video, apparently in an attempt to show a connection between the farmer and the abuse.

“What they (MFA) did is they (MFA) edited that into the middle of Billy Joe Gregg and his abuse,” Phillips said. “It creates a perception that Mr. Conklin knew or participated in this.”

In a released statement, Phillips said “they (jury) saw the unedited video of Mr. Conklin’s actions, not the highly inflammatory version released on YouTube by Mercy for Animals. In context, Mr. Conklin’s actions were entirely appropriate.”

The grand jury, a nine-member body, would have required at least seven votes to issue an (indictment).

Reviewing details

Conklin told Farm and Dairy he works as a cattle broker and frequently is away from the main farm to do business.

Additionally, he said the worker who was fired began his shift late in the afternoon, after many of the other workers had already left for the day.

The abuse was filmed over a period of about a month. Conklin said if he had known of the abuse, he “would have terminated that individual (Gregg Jr.) immediately.”

Conklin terminated Gregg the morning after he learned of the video, with law enforcement present. A loaded pistol was later found inside Gregg’s vehicle. He has been charged for improper handling of a firearm inside a motor vehicle, in addition to 12 charges of animal cruelty.

Ohio law sets the maximum sentence on the cruelty charges to eighteen months in jail. The weapons charge, a fourth degree felony, carries a maximum of eighteen months in prison.

To read more about how Gregg and the filmmaker got on the farm, see this related report.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

20 Comments

  1. wayne stakey says:

    Well written. From the information the out come was right. Everyone needs all facts before making a decision. This hurt the industry and should not had happen if the news media would know the facts before writing a story. Thank you

  2. lacebra says:

    YOU have got to be KIDDING! If Gary Conklin had been too weak to stand, should someone have KICKED HIM to get him to stand up? I do not think so! Gary Conklin is an animal abuser! If he chooses to be a dairy farmer, that is his coice. The “downed” cows do not ask to be put there, and they do not deserve to be KICKED because they are too weak to stand! These, so called “vets” with experience in large animal care, all work for the farm industry and view the animals as “products.” I see that the prosecuting attorney MADE SURE there was NOBODY to speak up for the animals. OHIO YOU STINK!

  3. ohiofarmer says:

    If all you animal rights people hate farming and ohio why are you reading Farm and Dairy?

  4. Sickening says:

    Good God is Ohio backward. Beating and kicking cows and calves is perfectly normal and acceptable in this redneck state?!? Ohio and the dairy farm industry should be deeply ashamed. You are a disgrace.

  5. Johanna says:

    @lacebra Remember that commercial from the 90′s for the medic alert – “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” If a cow does for some reason go down – and it could be for a variety of reasons – it is critical to get her back on her feet. And so, if we want to save the cow, we’ve got to find a way to do so. The edited MFA video apparently did not show the whole picture.

  6. SJ says:

    How would you propose that a cow that is down and refusing to get up (because she thinks she can’t) be gotten up? Should we talk sweetly into her ear? Should we explain clearly to her that if she doesn’t get up she will die there? Or would it seem like a good idea to momentarily startle her with some violence that will cause her to get up, thus alowing her to move and have a chance to live? These cows weigh over 1,000 pounds and are tough as nails. I’m guessing I could edit a video of physical therapy in a hospital that would incite similar cries of brutality and abuse.

  7. FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

    Once again the self-righteous animal rights morons have spoke…when the dust settled and the truth was revealed, they STILL criticize the farmer who was aquitted, and protect the animal rights camera man who admitted abusing the cattle himself…These MORONS think they know more than compentant, experienced large animal veterinarians who specialize in treating cattle, and also farmers who deal with cattle 24/7. Why dont you troublemaking-truth twisting complainers move out of this country…maybe youll just get to see animals here are treated much more humanely than in other places-and at the same time see what your nasty meddling would get you…

  8. catlover75 says:

    Maybe you could push the cow gently with your hands instead of repeatedly kicking it with the heel of your boot. I don’t know anything about dairy farming, but if the only way to do it is to use violence, then nobody should be supporting this industry. @FED-UP&PO’dfarmer We are not MORONS for wanting to make sure the animals in our country are treated as well as possible. I, for one, am waiting for someone to explain to me how this industry works so I can understand why it would be okay for a farmer to repeatedly kick a cow, especially when that method isn’t working (in the segment of the video I saw, Gary Conklin never succeeded in getting the cow to stand). Meanwhile, I’m continuing to live on a vegan diet until I understand exactly what kind of practices I would be supporting by eating dairy products. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” We are NOT nasty meddlers for trying to save our nation from moral decline and to save our country’s animals from any violence or stress. Can’t we just get along and work together towards clarifying ideas about the treatment of animals and improving conditions for all animals in America? You, as a farmer, probably care as much for your animals as I do. You can help us animal rights activists help our country’s animals by giving us the information that you hate to see us lack.

  9. Dannielle says:

    I understand that the vegan activist from MFA who filmed for a month and said NOTHING to stop is was also seen in the unedited footage abusing the animals with pitchforks. his defense to this was that he needed to maintain cover.
    Bill Joe Gregg faces 12 counts of animal abuse as he should. where are the charges for the filmer?????

  10. Chris Kick says:

    Dannielle,

    You are correct about the reports concerning the filmmaker, and his own apparent participation in the abuse. I wrote about that issue in this story: http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/animal-abuser-animal-rights-activist-fooled-dairy-farmer-with-seemingly-good-backgrounds/15300.html

  11. Marty says:

    Charges should have been brought against the filmmaker, as the unedited film evidently showed him participating in *animal abuse* as well as his cooperative abuser, Gregg. MFA is NOT animal welfare, but rather “animal rights”, and the MFA filmmaker was guilty of abuse. I hope Conklin files a *large* civil lawsuit against MFA and any who participated in this SET-UP of a *respectable*, *Lawful*, *needed*, and *honorable* animal industry. Those terms do NOT apply to MFA and the other “animal rights” INDUSTRY supporters who are trying to FORCE the majority of people to accept their *true believer* viewpoint. When are sane people going to tell these “animal rights activists” (who are NOT animal welfare–that’s a totally different perspective) to crawl back under the rocks from whence they sprang? When are the AR-zombies/groupies going to wake up to the reality that “animal rights” is FOR the end of the human/animal bond? That is just not gonna happen in our society. We are omnivores, and we are stewards of our animals, AND we are the OWNERS of animals we breed, raise, and use. How arrogant for a minority of *true believers* to try to dictate how the majority eat!

  12. Dr. Rosset says:

    For those of you who still condemn Mr. Conklin for booting his cow up from a downed position I would ask you to lift a cow without forcing it up. You can’t. By the time you got your crane out to the cow to lift her she would be dead, but I gather this is what animal rights zealots want is for all domestic animals to be extinct otherwise why would they push for these laws that cause the deaths of more animals. HSUS is the biggest offender along with PeTA who kills more animals than it places. Folks get real and educate yourself about the real agenda behind animal rights. It isn’t about the animals but about taking away your rights and gaining power over money. See Peter Singer’s article about how this should be the last Generation of Human Beings in the New York Times. He is the leader of the animal rights movement which was invented by Adolf Hitler to turn the German people against the Jews. Now the same philosophy is being used to turn us against farmers, dog breeders and others who actually know how to raise animals. Do you want a world without out meat, milk, eggs, medical research and pets? IF so you are are a radical animal rights zealot and if not then you are for animal welfare. Save your money and give locally only after you have determined the animal organization is for welfare not animal rights. Remember animal rights agenda is to end all livestock production, pet ownership, medical research and food. They want human beings to become extinct. Read the article by their leader Peter Singer. Should this be the Last Generation? ( of Human Beings) in the New York Times.

  13. Derek says:

    It’s the responsibility of the dairy owner to make sure that everything is run legitimately and humanely at his farm…the excuse “he’s frequently not there” is no excuse at all, and actually indicates that he has no business owning this farm if he cannot manage it adequately.

    Gary Conklin should actually put his money where his mouth is and install video cameras to record ALL goings on within his company, but we all know that won’t happen, don’t we? And why is that?

    No animal rights zealot here, just someone who cares about ALL creatures and demands decent treatment for ALL living beings. If you can’t provide that or if it’s obviously, as in this case, all about the money, then you need to get out of this business. While consumers cannot control what you do behind closed doors, we can influence your bottom dollar when we swear off your product, and it’s extremely easy to do. While we may not cut out dairy, we can and we will cut out of OUR budget any money spent on anything your company or those who deal with you produces and sells.

    Clean it up and keep it cleaned up. YOU sell to US, and if we don’t like what we see, it’s easy for US to go elsewhere. Gary Conklin can set the example, here, and go to extreme to show the public that from here on, his company will exemplify extra good treatment of the animals who put the food on his table, but it remains to be seen how he will ultimately behave.

  14. Ashamed2Bhuman says:

    First of all the cow Gary was kicking was small. I can see where this is out of context and I’m certain his abuse was nothing in comparison to Gregg’s. I mean, I still have faith that their can’t possibly be 2 people in such close proximity with this much psychological damage resulting in the same sort of behavior. But there are special mechanisms, lifts and slings as well as more humane methods to aid downed livestock or livestock who refuse to get up. You don’t have to kick them. But the thing that scares me the most is that it is a known FACT that people who abuse animals the way Gregg did are very high risk for becoming serial killers. You just watch: 10 years from now there will be an investigation on some tortured HUMAN murder victims and this guy is gonna be the one. The laws in this country are made so blindly, immorally, ignorantly and with so little actual thought to the BIG PICTURE, I wonder how they are supposed to protect ANYONE. Gregg belongs locked up and under close observation…possibly even some electro-shock therapy would do him some good.

  15. Vivian says:

    It is not surprising the Conklins came out of this smelling like a rose. It won’t take them long before it’s business as usual. I doubt that the anger raised by people make any difference in how the Conklins and the like view animals. How these people view their animals is not going to change. That would involve empathy which they are in short supply of. People need to stop eating grain or corn fed cattle to add some years to your lives.

  16. lola says:

    ““animal rights” is FOR the end of the human/animal bond? That is just not gonna happen in our society. We are omnivores, and we are stewards of our animals, AND we are the OWNERS of animals we breed, raise, and use.”

    Based on your post, I take it the human/animal bond you are referring to is the master-slave bond?
    And AR people are trying to change that?
    That is horrible.

    Doesn’t everyone know that, as you said, these animals are possessions? If I want to kick my couch, I can kick my couch. And if I want to beat a cow, well, it’s my cow. What in the world would make people think there is something wrong with that?

  17. Ann says:

    Lola, Sure, you can beat your cow all you want, you can stab it in the face with a pitchfork, you can break its tail, you can kill it, you can make it suffer and cry all you want cause you own it -if that is what you need to do to feel strong and powerful and good about yourself…..but even though you own it, it STILL doesnt make those actions right, or acceptable, because its called abuse. God help you if you thing nothing is wrong with physical abuse directed towards another living thing. Karma is a funny thing, it finds people like you quickly. Best of luck to you.

  18. LCampbell says:

    Lola, I disagree, no abuse of animals is tolerable even if you do own the animal. There is a difference between training and abuse. What we need is stronger laws on animal abuse regardless if they are an owner or an MFA undercover. Animal abuse is not tolerable even in the name of Humane Rights. MFA is just as guilty as the employee.

    Dr. Rossett and the State Vet agree that Mr. Conklin’s actions were appropriate for the situation. The vet even agreed had he been there he would have done the same thing. For people not raised from a farm perspective sometimes think things we must do to save the life of animal are abusive when in fact it is not. Same as for someone to see one person sitting on top of another beating them in the chest might think they are beating them up when in fact, they are trying to restart the person’s heart.

    The media is all about shock and awe and getting the story out regardless of the facts. They can always reprint/speak later to correct, to them it is more important to be the first to report.

    This hysteria over animal abuse is further spread like a plague by Animal Rights twisting/editing information to conform to their view. This very much what a Dictator does to control the situation. So where’s the truth in all of it. It hides sometimes days or weeks afterwards much in this case. The employee is an abuser, a large scale farmer such as Mr. Conklin has not enough time to stand around and watch his employee’s else he wouldn’t need to have hired them. Mr. Conklin did not abuse any animals.

    AR’s/Vegans, try getting the whole story before you go pointing fingers at people and making statements based on half truths/twisted facts. Own up to the fact the HSUS/PETA are not out to protect the animals, their out to make them extinct. Own up that not all farmers/animal owners are abusers. Own up that HSUS/PETA protects sub-groups such as MFA through money for protection because they don’t want their good name attached to a bad deed. MFA should have been charged as well and banned from this state. They are just another eco-terrorist playing a different game of abusing animals in the name of Humane Treatment.

    Vegan’s, don’t act like a dictator and try and force your views on everyone, some of us like meat. Your choice to be vegan, hope it works for you. My choice to eat meat, it works for me.

  19. Carmine says:

    That was unbelievable … No man or animal should go through torture like that…Also the owner is a complete liar…. There is no way that type of abuse could happen and he not know about it by injuries ,scarring ,and the fear the animals had to have afterwards….He totally got over on a government that actually subsidizes his farm….I am not a vegan or vegeterian but no living thing deserves to go through that type of
    pain…… Good job Ohio and the dairy industry… Hopefully karma catches up with you……. Digraceful……. C

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