SALEM, Ohio — An undercover animal rights investigator who spent four months producing a video documenting alleged abuse to cattle on a Colorado farm is herself being charged for animal cruelty.
Taylor Radig, an investigator for the animal rights organization Compassion Over Killing, is charged with a misdemeanor after the local sheriff’s office said she failed to report the abuse in a timely manner.
Her video documented alleged mishandling of dairy calves on Colorado’s Quanah Cattle Co., located in Weld County northeast of Denver. The video was turned over to law enforcement Nov. 12 and also resulted in animal cruelty charges against three of the farm’s workers.
Scot Hillman, chairman of the board for J.D. Heiskell & Co., which is a partner in the farm, said the farm “took immediate corrective action and terminated the three individuals seen in the video. We are now focused on re-training employees and taking care of our animals.”
The farm has engaged a third-party animal handling expert to do training for employees at the facility and has implemented an animal care code of conduct that all employees must read and sign prior to working.
Sat on video too long
As law enforcement continued their investigation, they discovered the video was produced between July and September, as much as four months before the abuse was revealed. That’s too long for Colorado state law, which requires prompt, timely action against animal abuse.
“They could have put an end to the cruelty back in July, but they didn’t so that’s why she got charged, because she allowed the mistreatment to continue,” said Weld County Sheriff John Cooke.
Had she turned in the report sooner, she would only have been treated as a witness, the sheriff said.
Questions the charge
According to Compassion over Killing, which was founded by Paul Shapiro — the senior director of Humane Society of the United States’ factory farming campaign, the charge against the investigator was unfounded.
“The charge against our investigator is unsupported by the law, and it reeks of political motivation fueled by an agribusiness industry that continues to lash out in desperation aiming to stop undercover investigators from exposing the truth,” according to the organization.
But Cooke refuted that claim, saying his duty is to enforce the law.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “Agriculture is important, but the sheriff’s office is not into agribusiness, we’re into the law enforcement business and that’s what we did, is enforce the law.”
The organization, known also as COK, filmed the alleged abuse at a time when many states are considering new legislation that would limit what visitors to farms can record, and the types of permission they will need.
Animal rights organizations, on the other hand, say they need the additional time, and right, to continue filming, in order to document enough evidence.
Concerning the most recent video, Cooke said there would have been enough evidence from July alone to make the animal cruelty charges, and more animals would have been spared.
“Just imagine the number of calves that have gone through that place in the past four months and the number they could have protected if they truly cared about the calves,” he said.
Warning: Video contains graphic content.