Hoosiers, dairy organizations react to alleged animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms

FAIR OAKS, Ind. —One of the three men accused of beating animals while working at Fair Oaks Farms is now in custody.

Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, 36, is currently at the Newton County jail and was placed on a hold by ICE. Gardazo-Vasquez was granted voluntary return to Mexico in 2005 after being arrested by U.S. Border Patrol.

An undercover video by  the Animal Recovery Mission launched an animal cruelty investigation, which led to his arrest.

Now, ARM Investigations is trying to prove it was not an isolated case by releasing a second video.

ARM said it witnessed and recorded “extreme and systematic abuse to both the cows and calves.” The video released Wednesday was taken between February 2019 and April 2019 and shows the milking process. The group held a press conference Wednesday.

Also, the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance was out in downtown Indianapolis protesting Fair Oaks Farms.

They wanted to voice their concerns on the dairy industry for alleged animal abuse caught on camera by ARM.

As they protested outside the JW Marriott, upstairs, the nonprofit was releasing a second undercover video.

It allegedly shows more Fair Oaks Farms employees abusing cows.

ARM’s director of investigations, AJ Garcia, says their undercover investigator wasn’t trained upon being hired as a milker and witnessed animal abuse for the three months they were employed.

"When cows on the milking line would not cooperate, frustrated employees would bend the cow’s tails.  Breaking the cow's tail bone as punishment for not entering the confusing rotary system," Garcia said.

ARM says they’ve turned over all of their new evidence to authorities in Newton and Jasper county.

"We are taking it upon ourselves to investigate these farms and to show the public how their food is produced. Law enforcement is not in charge of that," Garcia said.

ARM says it was too dangerous to bring the evidence to authorities while their undercover investigators were still on Fair Oaks Farms' property.

They say the multiple videos are to show the life animals live at dairy farms.

Indiana Dairy Producers Executive Director Doug Leman released the following statement to FOX59 about the alleged abuse caught on camera:

As a former dairy farmer and one who currently works with Indiana dairy producers today, I am deeply saddened and angered by the actions that have come to light over the last two weeks. Cow comfort and cow care is one of the most important aspects of a dairy farmer’s job. For the over 800 Indiana dairy farm families committed to the care of their animals, we continue to develop animal care techniques that improve animal welfare and put practices into place that ensure those working alongside our animals embrace the type of care we all believe in. The actions of these individuals do not represent the Indiana dairy farm community. We encourage any employee who witnesses animal abuse, neglect, harm or mishandling to report it immediately.

A spokesperson for the American Dairy Association Indiana Incorporated also released a statement to FOX59 about the alleged abuse caught on camera:

Dairy farmers here in Indiana and around the country make animal care an everyday priority. Like many of you, we were saddened and overwhelmed with emotion regarding the recent undercover videos. Any form of abuse is not tolerated in the dairy community. If a dairy farm faces allegations of animal cruelty or abuse, there are industry-wide protocols in place, as outlined by the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program, to determine if deliberate mistreatment of animals has occurred. The program works with the farm in question, and the cooperative or other company to which the farm ships its milk, to begin an investigation using an outside expert. If it is determined that intentional mistreatment has occurred, the farm will be placed on probation until corrective actions are taken.

“Like others, the dairy farming community is affected by the actions shown in the video and share their disappointment, anger and frustration. People can be assured this is a very isolated incident and not indicative of how our country’s dairy farm families operate. Dairy farmers are committed to continuous improvement. Simply put, animal abuse in any form is not tolerated on U.S. dairy farms.

Gardozo-Vasquez is being charged with beating a vertebrate animal, a class A misdemeanor. There are still outstanding warrants for Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano, 38, and Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros, 31, who are facing the same charge.

FOX59 reached out to Fair Oaks Farms for a statement on the second undercover video but hasn't heard back.

ARM Investigations say there were cameras set up in a few areas where these cows were held in the second video, but this didn’t stop the alleged abuse from happening.

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