Nathan Runkle, Mercy for Animals’ Executive Director, issued a press release yesterday, confirming warrants have been issued for five E6 Cattle Ranch workers for the despicable abuse caught on video by an undercover investigator in March of this year. Ranch owner, Kirt Espenson and his foreman Arturo Olmos have also been charged.
The undercover video was too graphically violent to be embedded in the original Care2 post. It showed workers at the E6 Cattle Ranch in Hart, Texas bludgeoning calves to death with hammers and pickaxes. The public reaction was phenomenal in terms of those who came forward to decry the abuse, including some animal agriculture folks.
Thanks in part to the many Care2 members who signed the petition calling for prosecution of these crimes, the Castro County (Texas) District Attorney’s office has filed charges against Kirt Espenson, owner of E6 Cattle Ranch, his foreman Arturo Olmos and five employees.
The employees are being charged with felony cruelty to livestock animals and include Manuel Soto, Christian Garcia, Daniel Dumas, Jose Martinez and Francisco Hernandez. They were identified through the Mercy for Animals undercover video. Espenson fired those employees after the video went public.
Espenson and Olmos have been charged with a class A misdemeanor for cruelty to livestock animals. The maximum punishment for the class A misdemeanor in Texas is up to a $4,000 fine or 1 year in jail. Those accused of felony animal cruelty face a fine of up to $10,000 and state jail time between 180 days to 2 years.
The five workers who were fired by Espenson after the video went public have not been seen. Castro County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Thomas Taylor is quoted in a KSBD.com story. “[We are] under the assumption they are illegal aliens,” he continued. “We are looking for them at this time.” Ranches and feed yards close by are being visited to determine if the men in question are there and to arrest them.
Taylor says the documents the former workers used to get jobs at the ranch weren’t real. “We have 5 felony warrants for torture for the workers involved with the claw hammers, the pick-axes, the persons standing on the throat; stuff like that,” Taylor said.
“We commend the Castro County District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office for taking swift and decisive action in bringing these animal abusers to justice,” said Runkle. “Let this case be a wake-up call to the dairy industry that cruelty to animals will not be tolerated.”
Indeed, something good has happened from the torture at E6 Cattle Ranch in Texas; the perpetrators have been charged. While the maximum sentencing possibilities may not seem fair for the level of abuse performed, it is encouraging that charges were issued in a primarily animal agricultural county in Texas. Next step: give the laws more bite. That is a battle for another day.
Photo of a calf Flickr: Marji Beach