Animal abuse claim prompts improved employee training, vetting

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Things have changed at the Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek Dairy facility near Hansen, Idaho, in the past few months.

The dairy is working to improve its hiring process and employee training, ensuring that the events that unfolded in October 2012 will not happen again. It was in October that an undercover video by an animal-rights group showing animal cruelty filmed at the Dry Creek Dairy facility made news. Read, “Undercover video reportedly shows abuse at Idaho dairy.”

The Associated Press reports that his week one of the dairy’s former employees pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse. Two others have warrants out for their arrest on animal cruelty charges. Read more.

Since then, the dairy – and others around the state- are working to improve many aspects of hiring and employee management, according to a report by the Magic Valley Times-News.  These employers have focused on improving application and hiring processes while maintaining better employee training programs.  

“We’ve done some training with the vetting process in the past, but we’re seeing stronger background checks since then,” Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, told the Times-News. “Part of that was designing employee contracts that outline what practices were not going to be tolerated.”

In addition to stronger vetting processes, some owners, like Luis Bettencourt, owner of Dry Creek Dairy facility, have installed video camera around his dairies as an added precaution against future claims. Employers are also working with experts to ensure a better class of dairy employee through an animal care practice certification program and improved employee contracts.

“It’s our livelihood, it’s our life on the line,” Tony Vanderhulst, a local dairy producer said. “We can’t be out there 24 hours a day. We have to trust our own employees.”

Read more from the Times-News here.

As Greg Henderson, editor of Drovers CattleNetwork, wrote in a commentary following the Bettencourt abuse video, “We may have made great strides in changing animal care practices, but as long as animal abuse occurs 0.01 percent of the time, the opportunity exists for activists to exploit such actions with video distributed via Facebook and Twitter. Our industries must continue to strive toward zero incidence for our zero tolerance policies on animal abuse to work.”

Click here to read the full commentary.



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