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Ontario Livestock charged with animal cruelty after hidden video surfaces

May 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
An animal rights group said it went undercover and caught workers at a local auction house beating livestock.

An undercover video shows animals being kicked, dragged and thrown into pins by workers at Ontario Livestock Sales in Ontario. The group Mercy for Animals said some of the animals, allegedly too ill to stand, were left to slowly die of injury or disease without veterinary care.

"This is some of the most egregious and sadistic abuse that I've seen in the 10 years of doing investigative work at farm animal facilities," said Nathan Runkle, executive director of Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals.

Mercy for Animals said they shot the disturbing images during a seven-week undercover operation. The auction house readies animals for sale, many of which are sold for food.

In one shot, an employee stomps on the backs of pigs to prod them. In another clip, several baby goats are carried by their hind legs.

The Inland Valley Humane Society said they've received several complaints about the facility over the years.

"The whole video in itself is very gruesome," said Silvia Lemus, a humane officer. "We've gone out there several times and unfortunately, when we are out there we are in uniform, and usually they are not going to commit those acts in front of us."

Last week, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office filed 21 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty against the owner and seven employees. They are due in court July 21.

Eyewitness News contacted Ontario Livestock Sales, which would not comment on the allegations.

The company's owner, 73-year-old Horacio Santorsola, told the Associated Press that the case was exaggerated and he and his employees had done nothing wrong.

Santorsola said he had not been cited once in the 18 years he's owned the business, and grabbing animals by their necks and legs is necessary because they are not tame.

"I think it's a bunch of crap," Santorsola told the AP. "How are you going to pick them up? They don't have a leash. They run, believe me, they do run."

Mercy for Animals said it has conducted 20 similar investigations across the nation. They said they hope to shed light on animal abuse.

"We feel it is absolutely unacceptable to beat animal, to throw then and to drag them by their neck," Runkle said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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