Undercover Investigator Goes Public to Reveal Animal Cruelty on California Dairy Farm

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“Dead on arrival” dairy is failing cows–and failing with consumers

San Jacinto, CA October 8, 2020 — 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. The hard-hitting new video illuminates the all-too-common cruelty found on this facility that supplies brands owned by Dean Foods, which recently filed for bankruptcy.

Investigators followed a truck from the facility to a stockyard, and then another truck from the 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 a 2008 undercover investigation. ABP currently sells beef to the federal government for its National School Lunch Program.

As caught on hidden camera, this milk (and the beef resulting from “spent” or “downer” dairy cows), is produced in remarkably cruel ways, including violence that shocked even our experienced investigator: 

  • Injured or downed cows being lifted over a wall and dragged by chains and tractors using a painful “hip clamp” 
  • Cows being violently kicked, jabbed and shocked by workers and a farm manager
  • Squalid conditions, including calves covered in flies and left to languish in the mud
  • Sick cows producing blood-tinged pink milk, and thick milk workers referred to as “cheese”
  • Lack of euthanasia or veterinary care — sick cows were left to slowly die
  • High mortality rates including a stillborn calf being painfully pulled from his mother’s body. 

“I saw abuse and neglect every single day at this farm,” said Erin Wing, who investigated Dick Van Dam Dairy — her last undercover investigation before choosing to leave the field. “I feel a special bond toward cows now because of it, and it will always stay with me. A part of me will always be with them as well.”

Wing has conducted multiple other Animal Outlook investigations, including a 2019 investigation of a dairy factory farm. In the aftermath of that investigation, Nestlé dropped the farm and added more vegan options. She also conducted the nation’s first-ever investigation of a salmon factory farm.

Animal Outlook submitted investigative materials to county law enforcement agencies asserting that dozens of criminal charges are warranted against both the farm’s owner and workers for violation of California’s progressive animal welfare laws.  Despite our overwhelming video evidence depicting dozens of apparent violations of California’s laws against animal cruelty and neglect, law enforcement declined to prosecute or provide any explanation for their failure to do so. But we’re not giving up and continue to explore other avenues for justice for these animals.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.

This shocking footage underscores the urgency to end this inherently cruel industry once and for all. We hope that by making this investigation public, consumers will realize their own power to decide to turn to the dairy industry and say, “enough is enough.” 

For investigative footage, please visit: animaloutlook.org/deathofdairy

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Animal Outlook is a nonprofit animal protection organization working to end the abuse of farmed animals through undercover investigations, litigation, corporate outreach, education and other advocacy programs. https://animaloutlook.org/

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