The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is upset with the decision not to file criminal charges against the owner of a Northumberland County dairy farm accused of animal abuse.
It was its complaint that led to a state police investigation of Reitz Farms in Shamokin Twp. last June.
After reviewing the results of a state police investigation, the district attorney’s office concluded criminal prosecution was not warranted, it was announced Monday.
The decision was based on the findings of an independent veterinarian who found conditions met acceptable standards under state law, District Attorney Tony Matulewicz said.
Dr. David R. Wolfgang, who is retired, issued a report in which he found places for improvement but no evidence of maltreatment or beatings, he said.
Animals had cover, food and water and received treatment for their injuries, the report stated, according to the DA who added if charges were filed they likely could not be sustained.
State police say a trooper trained in animal cruelty participated in the investigation that included visits to the farm and interviews with the owner and his veterinarian.
Responding to the decision not to pursue charges, Daphna Nacminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president of cruelty investigations, issued the following statement:
“Any reasonable person recognizes that it’s cruel to strike a cow nearly 60 times with a cane, deny cows care for massively swollen joints seeping blood and pus and confine calves to barns saturated with urine and manure.
“If cruelty and filth are acceptable to authorities in Pennsylvania, personal responsibility is all that’s left, so PETA asks everyone to remember these animals’ suffering—and choose vegan milk and cheese.”
PETA conducted its own undercover investigation that included videos of what it alleged were deplorable conditions at the farm that it says kept 300 cows and scores of calves.
It alleged cows were denied care for grapefruit-sized masses that oozed blood and pus and they were kicked and beaten with a cane on their udders.
Another allegation was calves that were separated from their mothers shortly after birth were forced to lie in their own manure and urine day after day in filthy barns and denied the opportunity to go outdoors.
PETA claimed its investigation revealed 60 percent of the cows being milked had leg joints that were swollen.
The video shows a male using a stick on a cow. That individual has not been seen since and is believed to have been from Kenya, Matulewicz said.
Since the investigation began the dairy farm has proactively and independently revised and improved its animal care procedures, state police say.
PETA points out the same dairy farm was investigated in 2009 over allegations cows were in so much pain they could not stand up.