MARYSVILLE, Ohio — The Union County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in connection with the animal cruelty documented on an undercover video at a dairy farm in Plain City.
Billy Joe Gregg, 25, of Delaware County was arrested on May 26 and charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor of the second degree.
Gregg is being held in the Tri-County Jail in Mechanicsburg, Ohio and will be arraigned at 8 a.m. on May 27 in Marysville Municipal Court.
A video released to media earlier this week by the animal rights organization Mercy For Animals shows Gregg punching and kicking dairy cows, jabbing them with pitchforks, hitting them in the head with a crowbar and conducting similar abuse to young calves.
His actions were unanimously condemned by Ohio’s dairy industry on May 26, and said to be intolerable and non-representative of the state’s dairy farms.
The undercover video was taken over a period of four weeks and has sparked some controversy among consumers and producers, as to why the animal rights organization withheld its findings for so long.
Lt. Jeff Frisch of the Union County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on whether the organization reported its findings in a timely manner, saying “we’re going to look at the investigation.”
The investigation continues and if others are involved, “the investigation will reveal that,” Frisch said.
The suspect was arrested the same day that Sheriff’s Deputies were notified of the alleged abuse found in the video.
The farm where the abuse occurred — Conklin Dairy Farms — fired one employee the morning of May 26. Frisch said the employee later came to the sheriff’s office, to turn himself over to authorities.
The investigation is being conducted by the sheriff’s office, and Humane Agents from the Union County Humane Society.
Frisch said the farm family has hired off-duty deputies to provide security against threats from activists. Whether the farm’s owners knew of the abuse by its employees has not yet been confirmed.
Slow to report
Nathan Runkle, who founded and directs MFA, said there were several reasons his organization did not report the illegal activity to authorities.
For one, they feared the safety of their investigator, because the employees reportedly had guns, including a handgun.
Also, Runkle said he was not sure how the local law enforcement would react to the investigation, and whether it would end prematurely.
He and his organization want Ohioans to respond by “adopting a vegan diet.”
If they will not give up meat and dairy products, he hopes they will at least “be more connected with where their food comes from.”
Ohio farmers and dairy organizations, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and many others all produced statements on May 26, condemning the abuse, but stating it is not an accurate representation of their industry.