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Conklin cleared of animal abuse
Buckeye Farm News
After viewing an unedited video of a dairy farmer caught up in an animal cruelty case, a Union County Grand Jury has cleared Gary Conklin of wrongdoing.
In a video released by the animal rights organization Mercy for Animals (MFA), an image of Conklin kicking a cow was spliced between scenes of a farm employee willfully abusing animals. The employee has since been terminated and is facing multiple counts of animal cruelty.
“The YouTube video created a perception that Mr. Conklin was involved in this abuse, which was simply not true,” said Union County Prosecutor David Phillips.
Four veterinarians with extensive experience in large animal care reviewed the unedited video and agreed that Conklin was attempting to get the cow to stand for its own health.
According to veterinary experts, a sharp blow or an electric prod is used to get an animal on its feet to prevent atrophy, which can lead to suffering and death. (To hear a veterinarian explain this principle, visit www.ofbf.org and search for “Is kicking a cow cruel?”)
“In context, Mr. Conklin’s actions were entirely appropriate,” Phillips said.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the undercover employee who was put on the farm by MFA – Jason Smith of Texas – told law enforcement that he did not witness any abuse by Conklin, and that Conklin did not know of the abuse by farm employee Billy Joe Gregg.
Neither Smith nor MFA brought the abuse to Conklin’s attention, and the first time he learned about it was when the video was released, according to Phillips.
The prosecutor also noted that Smith told law enforcement that he kicked animals and poked them with a pitchfork to maintain his cover. The grand jury considered charges against MFA and Smith but decided there was not sufficient evidence.
“(Smith) told me that MFA was aware of the abuse, since he reported to them on a daily basis. MFA allowed the abuse to continue, unreported, and the animals to suffer at the hands of Billy Joe Gregg. They allowed it to continue for three weeks so they could film it,” Phillips said.
The Conklin family has continued to receive threats stemming from the video.