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OFBF sponsors training classes for humane officers
Buckeye Farm News
Ohio Farm Bureau is hosting a series of meetings to help humane officers and others who deal with animal care complaints have a better understanding of farm animal care and production practices.
The first “Animal Agriculture 101” class was held last month at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. Three more will be held in April and May in Findlay, Mt. Vernon and Wilmington.
“We’re holding one meeting in each OFBF region of the state and our hope is that this will continue to be a yearly program,” said Leah Dorman, a veterinarian who is director of food programs for OFBF’s Center for Food and Animal Issues. “The first session went very well, and we had a lot of positive comments.”
Ohio State University Extension is helping sponsor the meetings and helped provide speakers and expertise for the six-hour class, which costs $15 and includes lunch and a resource binder. The classes are geared toward humane officers, dog wardens, animal control officers, local animal shelters/humane societies, sheriff’s officials and county commissioners. The idea for the class came from the county Farm Bureau level – last year Tuscarawas County won AFBF’s County Activities of Excellence Award for its humane officer training program.
Dorman said the purpose of the meetings is to not only provide information about basic animal care and husbandry but to help build a relationship between Ohio Farm Bureau and county humane and law enforcement officers.
“Many of the people responsible for investigating cruelty complaints about farm animals have little to no training in livestock,” Dorman said. “They need to know and understand that just because a cow is thin that it is not necessarily being abused. It could be going through a natural physical change. Animals can be thin due to age, poor teeth, or high milk production levels.”
During the morning session of the class, participants learned about basic body condition, feeding and shelter for animals in the dairy, equine, beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry industries. In the afternoon, they learned about animal behavior and handling, how to talk to the media about animal care concerns or questions, biosecurity on the farm and the role of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. At the end of class, participants were given a thick binder of information about different animal species and a list of phone numbers for county Farm Bureau organization directors and Extension personnel.
During lunch, Farm Bureau members had the opportunity to talk with humane officers and others to help develop/expand that relationship. Organization Director Michele Specht said some of the class participants were opposed to state Issue 2 last year and were surprised to learn their peers do not like the Humane Society of the United States.
“One woman who is from a local humane society was talking in general during lunch and told humane officers that HSUS is not a friend to the local humane society because HSUS does almost nothing for local humane societies,” Specht said. “One woman who was listening had been against state Issue 2 last year. I was thrilled to see her listening to her peer because she had been totally uninformed about HSUS.”
The class isn’t just a one-day event — participants are invited to visit county farm operations at a later date so they can see the animals in a typical farm setting and hear first-hand from farmers and local ag leaders about how they care for their animals and run their operations.
“It’s important to do the follow up because it strengthens the relationship we are trying to build with county humane officers. It’s important for them to understand why animals are housed the way they are and why they look the way they do,” Specht said.