Animals Angels, a Maryland-based group that investigates farm animal cruelty, has conducted undercover filming of the New Holland auctions since 2006. Their work has resulted in three cruelty convictions. The most recent case, ended in January with an auction employee, John King, being convicted for failing to get help for a live pig on the so-called “dead pile” of animals. The pig later had to be euthanized.
“I am very frustrated by the decision, it’s a step backward,” said Sonja Meadows, founder of Animals Angels. “Instead of fixing the issue at hand, an animal welfare issue, they put up signs to restrict photography.”
Meadows, who noted that the auction banned access to catwalks above the auction after another dead animal case ten years ago, said it doesn’t make sense for any dealers or brokers purchasing for others not to be able to photograph animals before their sale at the auction.
“I would think it would be detrimental to business all over the country,” she said. “Why expend all this energy trying to hide when it would be beneficial to their finances and reputation to do the right thing?”
Meadows said photo documentation is key to cruelty cases. “We have presented evidence to the district attorney’s office and charges are filed,” she said.
In 2015 the New Holland Sales Stables was found guilty of two counts of animal cruelty after an injured sheep and goat were left overnight on a carcass pile in subfreezing weather. Both animals had to be euthanized.