Three face charges in abuse of animals

By: The Associated Press
November 15, 2013 Updated: November 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm

GREELEY - Three people in northeastern Colorado are facing misdemeanor animal abuse charges after an animal rights group released a video showing calves being dragged by their ears and legs, lifted by their tails, kicked and thrown, authorities said Friday.

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said the investigation is underway into the Quanah Cattle Co. facility near Kersey, 55 miles northeast of Denver.

The sheriff identified the suspects as Larry Loma, 32, Tomas Cerda, 33 and Ernesto Daniel Valenzuela-Alvarez, 34. No phone listings could be found for them.

The Greeley Tribune reported the facility is owned by J.D. Heiskell & Co. of Tulare, Calif. J.D. Heiskell's board chairman, Scot Hillman, said in a written statement the company was dismayed by the video and is cooperating with authorities.

"Both J.D. Heiskell and Quanah expect the proper and humane treatment of animals handled at the Quanah facility. We are in the process of investigating to determine the facts of this situation," the statement said. The company plans to improve training and supervision, according to its statement.

Hillman did not immediately respond to a phone message and email.

The investigation began after the group Compassion Over Killing released a video it said was taken there. The group called the treatment egregious and said authorities should file animal cruelty charges.

Cooke said investigators plan to speak to the person who made the video to see if any other suspects can be identified.

Quanah Cattle received approval from the Weld County commissioners last summer for a calf-raising facility near Kersey.

The operation purchases Holstein calves from local dairies, raises the steers until they reach about 300 pounds and sells them to feed yards. Heifers are sold back to dairies when they reach the right age.

The county permit allows the facility to have up to 15,000 cattle, but company officials have said the actual number would likely be 8,000 to 10,000.

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