Animal rights group claims it found animal neglect at facility owned by state senator

Animal rights group claims it found animal neglect at facility owned by state senator
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An animal rights group says it found evidence of animal neglect at a facility owned by an Iowa state senator.

Direct Action Everywhere, an advocacy group based in Berkeley, Calif., released footage Friday from Rosewood Pork, Inc., a Mahaska County, Iowa pig farm owned by Iowa state Sen. Ken Rozenboom (R). 

“Inside the barns, investigators documented months-old piglets suffering bloody rectal prolapses and intense overcrowding. They came across one piglet who was unable to stand, and gasped for air while thrashing wildly for several minutes, before eventually dying,” the group said in a statement.

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The activists also said they filed a criminal neglect complaint on Thursday with the Mahaska County Sheriff's Office, the county attorney and the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

The evidence was released after the group entered the Iowa facility without permission in an attempt to flout the so-called “ag-gag” law that was passed last year with Rozenboom's support. The law makes it a criminal offense for animal rights activists and journalists to go undercover to meatpacking plants and livestock facilities to document conditions.

“Having grown up in Iowa, I know firsthand that ordinary people everywhere want animals – and the people speaking up for them – to be treated with respect," Matt Johnson, the project’s lead investigator, said in a statement. "When animal abuse is brought to light, it’s the abuse itself which is the problem, not the exposure of that abuse. Ag-gag laws are a clear indication that this industry has a lot to hide."

Rozenboom told The Des Moines Register that the investigation was a "professional hit job," and that he and his brother, Calvin, who also owns the facility, will press trespass charges against members of the group.

However, the state senator also admitted there were “caretaker deficiencies,” but that another farmer was leasing and operating the facility in April when the activists entered the facility and documented the abuses.

"They say they're all about rescue and saving animals from cruelty. But it’s nothing to do with pigs," Rozenboom told The Register, noting the nine-month gap between the investigation and the publishing of its findings.