Animal Legal Defense Fund Represents Hillsborough County Residents Suing to Stop Backyard SlaughterDecember 4th, 2012
For immediate release
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
Following an undercover investigation revealing gruesome acts of animal cruelty, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit today in Florida’s 13th District Court against Hillsborough County’s Cuesta Farm (aka “Quality Cattle”) and Planchart Farm (aka “B.P. Screens”) for criminal violations of nuisance laws. Undercover video through Richard “Kudo” Couto’s Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) nonprofit investigative organization documents horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, and birds illegally slaughtered and sold for public consumption without governmental inspection.
In this landmark case, ALDF represents Hillsborough County residents Robert Palin, Gael Murphy, and Barbara Lash, who are distressed by health code violations, illegal slaughter and disposal of animals, illegal sale of horse, cow, and pig meat, and cruelty to and unlawful confinement of animals. Florida’s public nuisance law allows private citizens to bring forth nuisance suits for the common good, and this case appears to mark the first time Florida residents have sued to stop backyard butchers who commit acts of unspeakable cruelty and pose a threat to public health, safety, and quality of life.
ALDF’s extensive video investigation exposes the shocking abuses committed on these so-called “backyard slaughter” farms. Animals are tortured, whipped, and starved. Children are present at both the slaughter and butchering of animals. In one example, defendants gutted a pig and dragged him with a meat hook while he was still alive and struggling. In another case, a defendant and an unidentified young girl butchered a live goat. They stabbed him, made holes in each of his hind legs with a knife so he could be hung from meat hooks, sliced the nerves in his neck, and beat him with a meat cleaver. Florida’s humane slaughter and cruelty codes clearly prohibit such acts of abuse.
Similarly, in criminal violation of Florida’s health and safety codes, unsellable animal byproducts are discarded on site and pollute local ground water. Animals are illegally confined in miniscule spaces amongst mountains of reeking piles of garbage. Located in populated, suburban areas, these backyard slaughter farms put neighbors at serious risk of disease and cause upsetting disturbances for neighbors.
“Hillsborough residents are rightly concerned about the unspeakable atrocities being committed in their neighborhoods, and the public health hazard these violations create,” says Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “No one wants such reckless brutality in their community—and this case argues that Florida law gives state residents the power to stop it.”
Copies of the lawsuit and broadcast quality video and photos from the undercover investigations are available upon request. ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit aldf.org.