(BROWNSTOWN) – This morning, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) a national animal rights organization’s sent an urgent letter requesting an explanation of the Indiana State Police’s public statements that East Fork Farms will not be charged, in part because of claims that some of the damning video footage was “staged” and that some of it was recorded on another pig farm.
On Thursday, the Jackson County Prosector’s Office cleared East Fork Farms in Brownstown of any wrongdoing.
The hog farm was under investigation after PETA call for an investigation into the farm’s practices.
Indiana State Police began their investigation on October 9th after PETA released a video and photos that show injured pigs abandoned to suffer in filth, dead piglets rotting on the floor, and a trash can teeming with maggots and overflowing with piglets’ bodies.
A second video was released later in the month showing similar conditions with a letter from a whistleblower who took the videos. The person refused to identify themselves.
However, when police and a veterinarian went to the farm they found none of the conditions featured in the video and found the farm met industry standards. A second veterinarian with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health visited the farm on a different date and found no evidence of animal abuse. Police say the veterinarians did provide farm owners tips on how they could improve the facility and better care for the hogs.
According to the police news release, the investigation showed that an unknown person or persons illegally entered the farm on multiple occasions in September and October and captured video inside the facility at night when no workers were present. Detectives determined cameras were then hidden inside the facility to capture daytime operations.
Investigators believe some clips were staged and that some were even filmed at another facility. Police have not been able to determine who filmed the videos.
Daphna Nachminovitch, Senior Vice President of PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department says PETA has fully cooperated with the police from the start and believes the footage to be strong evidence of violations of state law is asking police to clarify the following points: which portions of the video were “staged,” how it’s possible to stage piles of dead piglets and manure lagoons, why charges weren’t filed for the cruelty evidenced in scenes that the police state was indeed shot at East Fork Farms, which other facilities “some” footage may have come from, and whether they plan to investigate that pig farm, if it is in fact not East Fork, for cruelty.
The following is the letter sent from PETA to Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas G. Carter:
Given that the Indiana State Police (ISP) has finished its consideration of East Fork Farms and that no cruelty-to-animals charges will be filed, on behalf of PETA’s more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, I’m writing to request some clarifications with regard to claims made in the Versailles District’s public statement—specifically, concerning the following:
The investigation established that some of the clips were staged for the purpose of capturing the video and other video clips may have been filmed at a different facility. Detectives have not been able to identify the person who filmed the videos and the identity of the person has not been made available to detectives by PETA.
From the beginning, PETA has cooperated fully with the ISP. Each question from Detective Nate Adams was answered promptly and thoroughly, raw footage was express-shipped to the ISP immediately upon request, and we provided the ISP with the information that we have about the identity of the party who sent us the footage—i.e., an e-mail address. The ISP’s claim that “the identity of the person [who filmed the video] has not been made available to detectives by PETA” is misleading and does not reciprocate the same good faith and courtesy that we have shown to the ISP all along.
I must also call to your attention that Sgt. Stephen Wheeles made similar comments to the industry publication Farm World during the course of your inquiry, which were published on October 23. PETA immediately contacted Detective Adams to seek clarifications about the claims that parts of the footage had allegedly been “staged” and that parts of it had been taken at a location other than East Fork Farms. We also asked about Sgt. Wheeles’ claim that the ISP was “working with PETA in hopes of getting to the bottom of the video.” Detective Adams replied that no comment could be given, as the investigation was still active. For some reason, however, the ISP had already seen fit to make comments to a farming publication.
I hope you see why this unprofessional, inconsistent, and selective information sharing gives us pause. We are also disturbed that the ISP chose to use a tactic common to animal abusers who wish to deflect attention away from their own illegal conduct and confuse or mislead the public.
Now, we’re asking for an explanation as to which parts of the footage you believe could possibly have been “staged”? Is it the ISP’s position that the videographer brought the filth, flies, maggots, cockroaches, and rats into East Fork Farms? Or that the videographer collected and delivered to the facility the pools of manure and urine that the piglets were drowning in? Or that the videographer was somehow “responsible” for the animals’ open sores, paralysis, and abject thirst or for the deformed piglets, the bloated and clearly sick and injured pigs, the severe crowding, the dilapidated and rotting wood and structures, or any of the many other conditions that clearly violate the state’s statute prohibiting cruelty to animals? Does the ISP believe that the videographer somehow asked the workers shown on the video to throw screaming piglets 7 to 8 feet through the air? If the ISP believes, as stated, that “some” of the footage was filmed at East Fork Farms, why hasn’t action been taken to address the glaring violations shown in that footage? And if it believes that some was “filmed at a different facility,” why is the ISP not diligently working to identify that facility and render aid to the pigs suffering there?
We sincerely hope you will take a serious look at Versailles District 42’s conduct in this case. The pigs deserve much better than this, as do residents of Indiana.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Senior Vice President
Cruelty Investigations Department