Dairy: Dead On Arrival
Animal Outlook investigator reveals her identity and exposes the truth behind the closed doors of the dairy industry.
After a two-year career working undercover inside several factory farms, Animal Outlook investigator Erin Wing now reveals her identity, stepping out of the shadows to shine a light on the stomach-churning horrors she witnessed at her most recent — and last — investigation at Dick Van Dam Dairy, a factory farm in Southern California.
While there, Erin documented some of the most egregious cruelties she has seen in her career, along with barbaric (yet standard) dairy industry practices. She was also able to rescue a calf who now lives at a sanctuary (more on the calf rescue below).
What Erin witnessed was one of many dairy farms in its death throes with innocent cows caught in the middle of a battle between a world progressing and an industry fighting tooth and nail to keep us entrenched in the past.
This shocking footage underscores the urgency to end this inherently cruel industry once and for all. It’s time for consumers to ditch dairy, and for companies like Dean Foods to pivot to vegan products.
Animal Outlook’s undercover footage revealed:
• Cows so sick or injured they are unable to walk subjected to extremely cruel treatment by workers who sprayed them in the face with high powered water hoses; kicked, jabbed and shocked them; and closed metal gates on them.
• Workers routinely lifting these so-called “downer” cows with a tractor and dragging them with a metal device called a “hip clamp.” They lifted one suffering cow this way and dangled her almost 20 feet in the air to move her over a wall, and then dragged her backward over a cement slab.
• Sick cows left to suffer without medication, veterinary care or euthanasia. They languished for days until they died on their own, with no access to food or water while they were unable to stand.
Workers and a manager hitting cows with wooden canes and metal pipes in daily acts of extreme aggression and violence, sometimes as a form of retaliation against the animals.
• Workers and managers punching and kicking cows, and twisting their tails.
• Squalid and filthy conditions – cows forced to walk through thick feces and newborn calves unable to escape thousands of flies covering their fragile bodies.
• Shocking mortality rates of cows and calves, as well as high rates of injuries and illnesses – likely resulting from the putrid conditions and lack of care and treatment. One calf was born dead, and was pulled roughly from his or her mother. The mother cow didn’t have the benefit of pain management during this incredibly painful and rough incident.
• Cows repeatedly shocked with an electric prod as they were taken away to slaughter.
• Workers cruelly using automated gates to try to force cows to move in tightly packed spaces.
Turning hidden cameras into instruments of truth, undercover investigators are on the front lines of justice for animals — and consumers. Erin’s courage resulted in hidden camera footage that is changing the way the world sees what — and who — they’re eating. And the against-all-odds rescue of two young calves.
In more ways than one, dairy is dead on arrival. Cows must be pregnant in order to produce milk, so calves are mere byproducts to the industry. At Dick Van Dam, a slow and painful death was commonplace for calves. In one instance, a stillborn calf was pulled violently from his suffering mother. Many living calves were simply left in the hot California sun, covered in flies and slowly dying.
Meanwhile, consumers are slowly but surely realizing that the milk they drink does not come from happy cows, but relies on the broken bond between mother and child, and the violent exploitation of these individuals’ bodies. The dairy industry is dying, but not fast enough.
We also followed a truck carrying so-called “spent” cows from the factory farm to a stockyard. Later, we documented trucks going from that stockyard to American Beef Packers (ABP), the site of the former Westland/Hallmark Beef Packing plant that closed down after issuing a massive beef recall following the Humane Society of the United States’ 2008 undercover investigation, raising the question of whether this facility’s cows are ending up killed at this infamous site. ABP currently sells beef to the federal government for its National School Lunch Program.
Animal Outlook submitted investigative materials to county law enforcement agencies. Despite our overwhelming video evidence depicting dozens of apparent violations of California’s laws against animal cruelty and neglect, local law enforcement declined to recommend criminal charges. However, we are still actively pursuing justice for these animals through other means. And after reviewing the investigation, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Dick Van Dam Dairy and the individuals caught on camera for violating state and local animal cruelty laws.