Police Open Investigation Against Fair Oaks Farm, After Undercover Video Revealing Animal Abuse

The video of abuse led to Jewel-Osco removing all Fairlife products.

Bernie Tafoya
June 05, 2019 - 1:54 pm

**Warning: Video above and below contains graphic content of animal abuse that may be disturbing to most viewers.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- You won't find "Fairlife" products in the dairy case at your local Jewel store. Executives said Wednesday they have pulled products from "Fair Oaks" farms following the release of video that activists said shows calves being abused at the popular farm.

“Jewel-Osco is removing all Fairlife products after an undercover video was made public showing the inhumane treatment of animals at a Fair Oaks Farms in Jasper County, IN. At Jewel-Osco we strive to maintain high animal welfare standards across all areas of our business, and work in partnership with our vendors to ensure those standards are upheld. We apologize for any inconvenience," the company said in a statement.

In addition, police in Northwest Indiana have open an animal cruelty investigation.

The alleged abuse happened at Fair Oaks Farms, which calls itself "the #1 Agri-tourism destination in the Midwest," and is about 80 miles south of downtown Chicago in Fair Oaks, Indiana.

The organization, Animal Recovery Mission put out a four minute video this week showing instances of calves and mother cows "wailing," as the video puts it, after the babies and their mothers were separated for good immediately after birth.

The founder of Animal Recovery Mission, Richard Couto, told WBBM Newsradio his investigator went undercover and was hired by Fair Oaks to care for calves, but that what he witnessed starting in the first hour was anything but care.

Video shows workers beating, kicking, and throwing calves, dragging them while the worker sits in a vehicle, and pushing them off vehicles.

"This wasn’t done by one, two or four employees. This was done by everyone we worked with," Couto said.

Couto figures he has at least 100 hours of video showing abuse and neglect of the calves. 

"Friday, we’re going to be releasing an hour and a half of video of that farm to show the public and the greater press, such as yourself, the extensive abuse, the systematic abuse and how much there was there."

Meanwhile, the Newton County (Indiana) Sheriff's Office is responding with an investigation into the alleged animal abusers and the "witness," the investigator who "failed to report this activity."

In a statement to the media, the sheriff's office said, "We acknowledge the need for humane treatment of animals and the need to hold individuals that have gone beyond an acceptable farm management practice accountable for their actions.
"We have requested the names and identifiers of those terminated for animal cruelty by Fair Oaks Dairy Farms.  We will also be seeking the identity of the witness to the alleged crimes that failed to report this activity for some time. 
"We will work with the Newton County Prosecutor’s Office to file charges for any criminal activity the independent investigation revealed.
"We anticipate cooperation from both parties in this matter during this investigation.
"Any suspected animal cruelty should be reported immediately by calling 219-474-5661 or our TIP LINE 219-234-7014."

Fair Oaks Farms has issued statements on its Facebook page. Wednesday it said that many people have expressed their "disappointment, heartbreak and anger" regarding the videos. Fair Oaks said it shares those feelings and takes full responsibility and is "currently putting actions into place to ensure that this never happens again."

On Tuesday Fair Oaks Farms said on Facebook that it had previously fired three of the four workers seen on the video because of complaints from supervisors about animal cruelty. The fourth worker is being fired Wednesday. A fifth person seen on the video, Fair Oaks Farms said, is employed by a trucking company that does work for Fair Oaks. That person's employer is being told what happened.

Couto said he hopes Fair Oaks Farms' owner veterinarian Michael McCloskey does make changes.

"Michael McCloskey has to make a decision. Is he for the almighty dollar and profit, or is he for what he states online and in his statements, does animal cruelty and combatting that mean everything to him? We’ll see in the incoming days."