Animal rights group alleges mistreatment at auction yards
By JACK ELLIOTT JR.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An animal rights group said Monday that it is filing complaints in courts in Forrest and Pontotoc counties against two livestock auctions sites where it alleges cows, sheep and other animals are being mistreated.
Matt Rice, director of investigations for Los Angeles-based Mercy For Animals, said the complaints were being filed in county courts Monday against Pontotoc Stockyard in Pontotoc and Southeast Mississippi Livestock in Hattiesburg.
The group has hidden-camera video footage of animal abuse and neglect, Rice said. Details of the investigation will be announced at a news conference Tuesday in Jackson, he said.
Joe Johnson, manager of the Hattiesburg stockyards, told The Associated Press he was aware of the allegations.
“Our attorney was notified by the district attorney’s office that it is under investigation by local authorities. We have been advised by our attorney not to say anything more while the investigation is going on and it goes through the court system.” Johnson said.
There was no answer Monday at the telephone number for Pontotoc Stockyard.
Rice told the AP that one of the group’s investigators got hired as an employee at both livestock arenas.
“He simply went to work, wired with a hidden camera and documented the activities there,” Rice said.
Rice said video, which will be released Tuesday, shows the animals “being kicked, shocked, beaten, and dragged by their ears and tails. It also shows management acknowledging that animals are deprived of food and water. “
Rice said the group is seeking the filing of a total of 28 animal abuse counts against five workers at Pontotoc Stockyard and 21 counts against five workers at the Hattiesburg business.
Rice said the group is calling on law enforcement agencies to “hold these animal abusers accountable for their crimes against livestock.”
“We’re also asking the Livestock Marketing Association — of which both of these auctions are members — to crackdown on animal abuse at their member facilities,” he said.
Rice said Mercy for Animals calls for more oversight and training for workers at livestock barns, camera monitoring with live streaming and zero tolerance for abuse.