Yesterday, I posted about the recent release of an undercover video by Mercy For Animals of E6 Ranch in Hart, Texas. Not much has changed since then - the video is still horrific, I'm still outraged that anyone would treat animals that way and unfortunately the video is still receiving views. However, what has changed is that the ranch's owner, Kirt Espenson, is stepping up and taking the heat for the events that have taken place on his ranch- he isn't passing the buck or blaming the undercover videographer.
Trent Loos, agriculture advocate, public speaker and radio personality, states that it's not fair to condemn someone without knowing the full breadth of the situation. That is also a part of responsible journalism. I agree with that statement and admit that I, like others in the media, may have jumped to conclusions about the integrity of the owner and management of E6. Loos interviewed Mr. Espenson to get the truth on how he feels about the release of the video and how he plans to remedy the situation. In the interview, which you can listen to here, Mr. Espenson openly takes responsibility for the actions of his employees and states that new employee training is going to be put into place so that every last person is well trained in animal handling and euthanasia in order to ensure that this type of incident never happens again. I don't know Mr. Espenson, but after listening to the interview I truly believe that he is sorry for how the animals were treated and that he will work his butt off to make sure that it never happens again.
As an animal wellbeing scientist, I have
little no tolerance for poor animal handling - especially in the euthanasia arena. That goes for the undercover videographer (who is seen in the video using a hammer to euthanize calves) and especially the employees. Euthanasia of the calves in the video was necessary as they had suffered from frostbite which was causing them to lose their limbs however, a hammer does not meet the criteria for humane euthanasia: quick and as painfree as possible.
I truly hope that you will listen to the entire interview because Mr. Espenson also addresses antibiotic use on the ranch, which was brought up in the video.
So - take away from the past two days, the video, the interview and my posts:
-- The treatment in the videos was bad and inexcusable. I truly hope that the employees (and the videographer) are punished. If that means jail, so be it. Like I said, inexcusable.
-- The owner, Espenson, is fully aware of his responsibility on the ranch and to animal wellbeing standards and plans to put new animal care training programs in place.
-- The treatment in the video is not the norm - it is the minority and as such should not be used as a descriptor of an entire industry.
-- If you want to know more about animal care, ranching or farming - let me know and I'll hook you up with a producer near you who would love to show you around the farm.
One last thing -- this is a fact sheet about humane euthanasia of cattle and calves from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. This is something about which all farmers and ranchers should be well educated. Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be.
I hope that I have been helpful in reporting the news about the video, interview and facts of animal wellbeing and euthanasia. As always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
Labels: agvocacy, animal welfare, animal wellbeing, calves, farming, producers, ranchers, Texas