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Special Prosecutor investigates handling of pigs on northeast Ohio hog farm

5:43 PM, Apr 10, 2008   |    comments
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The investigation was started, after undercover video was taken on the farm. The Humane Farming Association --a non-profit group that investigates animal abuse-- provided the video to authorities. We showed the H.F.A.'s video. The video is very disturbing, but everything contained in it may be legal. That's why we showed it. The Wayne county farm is part of Ohio's heartland and a reminder America's backbone, our farmers. "There was an ad in the paper for farm labor, it said had dirty work, male or female, I answered it," said Ingrid DiMarino. Soon after DiMarino had her dream job. "I just thought it was going to be a fun job," she said. She loves animals, even pigs. "Never expected to find what was there," DiMarino said. "I think that's the misunderstanding," Bob Baker said. "People think that there are agencies overseeing this." Bob Baker is a field investigator with the Humane Farming Association. "It made no sense what so ever." He travels the country looking into cases of abuse. Ingrid tipped him off about this. When Joe Wiles, the farmer's son and farm manager was asked, "do you guys abuse these animals?" He said, "no." "I have not, no I never abused them," said Wiles. We agreed not to show you, who he is but Bob even called in the H.F.A's undercover investigator, who shot the video. "I introduced him to Ingrid and Ingrid got him employment out there. He wore a hidden camera the whole time he worked out there." Of course on a hog farm, pigs die but the H.F.A. thinks they shouldn't be left to rot and decay. "It stunk so bad I couldn't stand the smell we'd be gagging," said Ingrid. "I don't think people realize what goes on," said Baker. There are thousands of pigs at Wiles' farm, sows, boars, and all sorts of piglets. What disturbed the H.F.A. is the way they were treated. "They would throw the pigs around and especially the piglets," said Baker. Ingrid says many end up with broken legs. "These little pigs would just quiver. They were like real stunned and then they would grab them by the leg again and throw them into another crate," said DiMarino. Ingrid says it never took long before they ended up in barrels. "They put them on the floor, kick them, it was obvious they couldn't walk," said Ingrid. If the pigs did manage to get around they're forced into small pens, rubbing against rails that often leave wounds. "I wanted to treat wounds and they said no, that's not cost effective," claimed DiMarino. "I mean they're confined to those things their whole lives until they go to slaughter," said Baker. But many die much sooner. Joe Wiles was asked, "'Are you torturing them before they have to die?'" "I haven't tortured any animals. I don't torture them," he answered. He went on to say they're treated well. "As humanely as possible. Everything, how we euthanize our animals has been taken off the P.E.T.A. website. Everything we do is through their guidelines," said Wiles. P.E.T.A. says the group does not allow the treatment caught on tape. "I'm doing it to the laws of the state of Ohio. I'm following those laws, I'm following the federal laws," said Wiles. To figure that out, Bob Baker handed all his video, pictures and evidence to the sheriff, who raided the Wiles farm along with humane officers and vets from The Ohio State University. When confronted with the fact the H.F.A. shot undercover video, Wiles denied any wrongdoing. "I didn't see any pictures. There's the owner, you can talk to him," said the younger Wiles. He pointed out his father. We tried talking with him several times but he declined. "'See you later thanks buddy,'" said Ken Wiles, the farm owner. "'I have nothing more to say. I'm going to ask you to please step off the property,'" said Joe Wiles. "It's just appalling. I guess the thing that bothered me the most was, you have on video Ingrid yelling at them about the hanging and they stand there and laugh. They thought this was funny. One of them goes around and grabs the hog as it's hanging there and hugs it. These poor animals are hanging there suffocating," said Baker. Who went on about what he saw. "There needs to be a message sent that this is not going to be tolerated in Ohio," he said. "They need to close the farm down," claimed Ingrid. What is clear, the behavior shown on the video doesn't mean any laws were broken. That's up to a prosecutor to decide. While no veterinary group we spoke to endorses the hanging of pigs, there is one group of veterinarians that accepts blunt force trauma as a form of euthanasia for piglets under 15 pounds. The state and federal departments of agriculture do inspect for health reasons like E.coli outbreaks but the laws are relaxed on the humane handling of animals.

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