Idaho Falls feedlot being investigated for alleged animal abuse and illegal activity
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IDAHO FALLS — A local feedlot is under investigation by officials after reports of animal abuse from its neighbors and other local residents.
The allegations of abuse include strangulation, stabbing, and attacking the animals with hammers, all while alive and without sedation. As of the posting of this article, no charges have been filed.
Neighbors of the feedlot on Kathleen Street tell EastIdahoNews.com the feedlot has been abusing animals and forcing them to live in extremely unsanitary conditions for decades.
Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bryan Lovell confirmed to EastIdahoNews.com that deputies and officials with the Idaho Department of Agriculture were dispatched to conduct a search warrant at the feedlot on Friday related to the reported animal abuse.
Chanel Tewalt, the Deputy Director of Communications for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture confirmed in an email to EastIdahoNews.com that the “State Department of Agriculture has an open animal-related investigation at a property on Kathleen Street in Idaho Falls.” ISDA doesn’t comment on or provide interviews about open investigations.
On Sunday, a fire broke out at the feedlot that took the Idaho Falls Fire Department over six hours to extinguish.
According to a news release from the Idaho Falls Fire Department, “There was a significant amount of fire that had fully engulfed an RV, tractor, and two large haystacks. The winds made fighting the blaze even more challenging as the fire spread to multiple one ton boxes of pig feed and threatened livestock.”
Idaho Falls Fire Department PIO Kerry Hammon, told EastIdahoNews.com that the cause of the fire is undetermined.
The initial investigation by the sheriff’s office came after complaints from various residents and the Animal Rescue Mission (ARM), a Florida-based animal rights group that conducts undercover investigations.
Richard Couto, the founder of ARM, flew to Idaho Falls on Friday, posing as a customer purchasing animals in order to obtain footage and evidence of the abuse.
“Everything about them is illegal. They don’t have a business license, proper insurances, and they’re certainly not licensed to butcher animals and sell meat,” says Couto. “The sheriff’s office did issue a search warrant on Friday night. They went in with a few departments, including the Department of Agriculture, and found a lot, a lot, of issues.”
In a video taken by Couto and provided to EastIdahoNews.com, live animals are seen being stabbed with knives while letting out high-pitched squeals. Goats and pigs are seen being tied around the neck with a rope before they are dragged across the property, strangled and cut into. EastIdahoNews.com cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the video.
“They’re not stunning the animals at all. They’re sawing into them, they’re skinning them alive, they’re going after them with hammers,” says Couto. “Blood, animal parts, trash and animal waste are being dumped into the canal from the slaughter operation, and it’s going throughout [the] community. It is a serious health issue. I’ve seen it myself.”
In the video, there are obvious signs of unsanitary and abusive living conditions. A large amount of dead animals are seen lying around the property, trash is strewn throughout the lot and the animals are drinking unclean water. Some are seen sleeping in large piles of feces and manure.
“This property is so heinous. This is where infectious diseases outbreak into local communities and then spread throughout the country, so hopefully your county is taking this seriously,” says Couto.
At least two of the animals, a baby pig and a goat, were purchased by ARM during the investigation and handed over to the Funny Farm Animal Sanctuary in Blackfoot. In a Facebook post, the organization wrote the goat “was tied so tight the ropes were cutting into his legs and put in a plastic trash bag. He’s also had parasites.”
It is unclear who owns the feedlot and attempts to reach an owner were unsuccessful.