Four livestock auction workers convicted of animal cruelty

(The following is a press release from Evolotus PR.)

Jackson, MS - Earlier today, Octavios Hillard, Kenneth White, Roy Stewart, and Clayton Harris were convicted of criminal animal cruelty before Forrest County Justice Court judge Gay Polk-Payton for viciously beating, kicking, punching, and dragging animals. These convictions were the result of shocking hidden-camera footage of animal abuse secretly recorded by Mercy For Animals at Southeast Mississippi Livestock in Hattiesburg. The animal abusers were sentenced to 2 months probation and ordered to pay $238 in fines and court fees each.

Mercy For Animals' general counsel, Vandhana Bala, will speak about the case at a press conference tomorrow morning and screen the graphic footage that led to the criminal convictions.

Date: Thursday, December 18, 2014

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Jackson Marriott (Briarwood Room), 200 East Amite St., Jackson

Mercy For Animals praises the Forrest County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office for their swift and decisive action in pursuing justice in this important matter.

After reviewing the hidden-camera footage, Dr. Bernard Rollin, a distinguished professor of animal science at Colorado State University, stated: "This video demonstrates every kind of abusive handling, with animals being beaten with rods; picking up sheep by the neck (even injured animals) then smashing them into a truck bed; dragging and pushing sick downer animals with a forklift; picking them up by the tail, all while the workers shout and create fear."

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Mercy For Animals has uncovered criminal animal abuse at livestock markets. In 2012, a Mercy For Animals investigation documenting an ongoing pattern of cruelty, egregious violence, and severe neglect at Ontario Livestock Sales, one of the oldest and largest livestock auctions in southern California, resulted in the criminal convictions of the owner and multiple employees of the auction.

Mercy For Animals is calling on the national Livestock Marketing Association to crack down on animal cruelty by requiring auctions to install video monitoring systems that live stream to the Web to prevent abuse, ensure animals have access to food and water at all times, provide proper veterinary care for sick and injured animals, and implement comprehensive training and auditing programs to prevent abuse.

"This case graphically illustrates the cruel, inhumane, and illegal abuses that farmed animals are all too often subjected to at livestock markets across the country," says Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals. "In a civilized society, it is our moral obligation to protect all animals, including animals raised and killed for food, from needless suffering. These convictions should send a strong message to other auctions that animal abuse will not be tolerated."

To view the undercover video, visit