Police still searching for two other employees.
by Dennis Halladay, Hoard's Dairyman Western Editor
A degree of closure has come in the sensational animal abuse video case that occurred in Idaho last October.
Jesus Garza, 25, one of three employees seen abusing cattle in an undercover video that was filmed at Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen by an employee of an animal rights group who had recently been hired by the dairy, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse charges on January 16. He faces up to six months in jail.
The two other employees who face charges have yet to be apprehended.
Dry Creek is one of 10 dairies milking a total of more than 60,000 cows owned by Luis Bettencourt. The well-orchestrated release and publicity of the video by Mercy for Animals caught both him and the entire Idaho dairy industry by surprise.
According to the Idaho Department of Agriculture, it is the only animal welfare complaint that has ever been received against any of Bettencourt's operations.
The county prosecutor who filed the case said the dairy cooperated fully with investigators, who noted they did not believe anyone in its management knew about the abuse. Bettencourt took swift and decisive action after the video was released.
All five employees seen in the video (only three committed abuse) were fired. All 500 of his employees were required to watch the video and sign an affidavit that they understand there is zero tolerance for animal abuse at the dairies. Video cameras were also installed on all the dairies to monitor employee behavior, plus an extra supervisor was hired.
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