Hog abuse charges filed

Published 11:49 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

Six individuals ranging in age from 18 to 60 have been charged with animal abuse crimes following an investigation at a hog confinement facility in Bayard, Iowa that contracts with Hormel Foods.

On Tuesday, the Greene County Sheriff and Greene County Attorney’s Office completed their investigation into a complaint of animal cruelty reported on Sept. 15 by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that took place at a hog confinement facility located in southwestern Greene County. The owners of the facility are MowMar of Fairmont, Minn. and the site is managed by Suidae Health and Production.

PETA supplied the sheriff’s office with taped incidents of abuse, which reportedly took place at the facility last summer and which was documented by undercover employees who were working for PETA. A number of present and past employees have been interviewed regarding this matter.

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MowMar confirmed Wednesday that none of the defendants are still working at the facility.

Charged in this matter are as follows:

Jordan M. Anderson, 26, of Audubon, Iowa, a former on-site manager: two counts of aiding and abetting livestock abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor, and one count of simple misdemeanor livestock neglect,

Greg W. Hackler, 18, of Jefferson, Iowa: two counts of livestock abuse,

Shawn M. Lyons, 35, of Bayard: one count of livestock neglect,

Shelly A. Mauch, 34, of Scranton, Iowa: one count of livestock neglect,

Richard M. Ralston, 27, of Bayard: five counts of livestock abuse,

Alan B. Rettig, 60, of Scranton: five counts of livestock abuse

Warrants have been issued for the aforementioned defendants and once arrested will have their initial appearance before the Greene County Magistrate.

Under Iowa law, an aggravated misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison and a minimum $625 fine or a maximum fine of $6,250. A simple misdemeanor carries up to a maximum of 30 days in the county jail and a minimum $60 fine or a maximum fine of $625.

MowMar released a statement following the release of the defendant’s names and charges.

“All six employees charged by the Greene County Sheriff and Attorney are no longer employed at the farm. MowMar owners and management will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement and review the findings from the Sheriff’s Office investigation. Further, based on new evidence, Suidae Health & Production, the farm management firm, has terminated the manager of the farm. All existing and new employees receive extensive and ongoing training to ensure that our ‘zero-tolerance policy’ with respect to mistreatment or abuse of farm animals is upheld. MowMar shares the goal of ensuring that all animals managed by our operations are treated in a humane manner, guided by policies that meet the highest legal, ethical and industry standards for animal husbandry.”