PETA video relied on fear-mongering tactics

Aug 17, 2014

The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) video taken at a small Haywood County dairy farm and released last week is the latest prop being used to advance the animal rights organization’s agenda.

It is an agenda that is pretty clear and prominently displayed on the organization website: “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”

While it is to be expected that promotional events and materials would illustrate points that underscore its mission, it shouldn’t be expected that misinformation would be widely circulated.

That appears to be the case with the dairy video released by the organization last week.

PETA claimed the cattle were emaciated and forced to remain in a several-inch deep pool of their own waste. However, the Haywood County Animal Control department found that cattle were pastured in a clean area next to the barn and a pasture across the road when they weren’t being milked. There was no evidence the cattle were either emaciated or in poor health, said animal control officer Jean Hazzard, a county official who has come down hard on those who abuse animals in the past.

In an email Hazzard wrote, “I have responded to the dairy and met with the owner and reviewed the alleged deplorable confinement and living conditions, which were unfounded.”

The news release also claimed that regional grocer Harris Teeter was receiving milk from the dairy — a fact the grocer denied and demanded to be retracted.

PETA also urged consumers to reconsider using dairy products, and instead switch to soy or almond milk, suggesting the conditions they found on an impromptu visit created health safety issues for consumers.

That, too, was something the N.C. Department of Agriculture inspectors found to be untrue. The state inspection sheet lists 73 separate items included on any dairy farm inspection that must be followed to safely provide milk to consumers. Of all the requirements, the dairy was found deficient in only two areas.

Environmental regulators came down harder on the farm, issuing six notices of violation, most of which involved the way animal waste was handled.

While problems were spotted at the farm, they were ones that can — and are being — corrected.

It is unfortunate PETA resorted to false and exaggerated claims to make their point. In doing so, the organization has caused unwarranted damage to innocent parties and has undermined consumer confidence in our food supply without justification.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Aug 18, 2014 13:37

               Thank you for these few comments. Unfortunetly the picture of the cows in mud/manure will haunt those inclined to be prejudiced. Ignorant as it must be. That's just the nature of the difference between city folks and farmers. Farmers deal with "self-evident truth's" of Nature everyday. All day, for the most part. Those that do not are easily persuaded to believe that which suits their preconceived opinions. Just look at Mr. Ryan's letter posted today.

                    I'll never forget sitting in the Clunette Methodist Church and having OUR preacher go on and on railing against any interferrance between the "sacred bond" of the sperm and egg. Didn't go over too well with the congregation of which one was a licensed Inseminator, with several in attendance who were his clients. Unbeknownced(sp) to the preacher. When the preacher discovered his till was pretty small that week he complained the next and got an earful. Wisely he apologized. Had to change his lesson for that Sunday too. It was to be a continued explanation of the "sacred bond" of procreation. He let the subject go for a while but started on it again a few months later. That morning the "Inseminator" was in attendance and offered to show the preacher just how "sacred" the act of artificial insemination was. Preacher declined. Another time Inseminator's wife was asked where her spouse was and she held out her arm and pointed to her armpit and said "he's probably this far up a cows but". Most laughed. Some were "shocked" having no idea of the concept.

                 The problem of those not being informed of the "self-evident truth's" of Nature while instead embracing "revealed truth's" is something that all too often causes conflict that takes much energy to resolve.



Posted by: Alexandra Moore | Aug 18, 2014 17:36

This article is not only biased, it is factually incorrect.

On August 8, state environmental and natural resources officials did find 3’ of standing manure in the barn. And if cattle had not been confined amid their waste overnight, how could PETA have captured and published a photograph of cow #2, who is emaciated and has a painfully overgrown hoof and lameness, lying in manure in the free stall barn before the sun rose one morning?

If the animal control officer did not see the cows who were emaciated and in poor health, how does one explain the video? Cows 2 and 188, whose body conditions scored 1—are they not obviously emaciated? Then there is cow 6, bleeding from the nose. And cow 2 limping out of the milking parlor, trying so hard not to bear weight on her painful right hind hoof. How does one explain the irritated, inflamed skin conditions on cows in photographs PETA captured and published?

And Harris Teeter can deny it all they like, but PETA was told by Piedmont Milk Sales that their Hickory unit, where this farm’s milk was sent, supplies only to Harris Teeter. PETA published a recording of that conversation.

Regarding the fact that of all the requirements of the dairy farm inspection, this farm was found deficient in only two areas, that should frighten—not assure—consumers. That manure could splatter onto cows’ udders just before they are milked, that animals could be made to trudge in and live in their own waste, and that this still could be judged OK by inspectors expected to ensure food safety is disturbing.

The environmental regulators who "came down harder on the farm," according to publicly-released documents, found that manure was 3 inches high, was overflowing, and was running off into a nearby creek! The agency is considering recommending a fine of up to $25,000.

While people are busy playing the blame game, making excuses, and bashing PETA, what of the cows? Is anyone besides PETA deeply concerned that the animals suffering on that video from hoof ailments, poor body condition, and other ailments seem to be denied appropriate veterinary care and are being abused?

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Aug 18, 2014 17:54

I am more concerned that you make a public charge that The Mountaineer is incorrectly reporting facts.  How can we form an opinion if we don't know the facts.  I did not see the video.  Obviously you have.  Could it be that The Mountaineer is only reporting what animal control and government officials report without validating facts?  (We've seen this before when a County Attorney said something inaccurate and The Mountaineer erroneously repeated it.)  Ms. Hyatt reported to have seen the facility herself.  (And presumably has some experience with cattle operations.)  Would the conditions that you report as concerning be invisible to her?  Would you suspect she turned a blind eye or was not shown areas that were concerning?  Or could it be that the PETA side might have inaccurately documented or misrepresented something?


It could even be that both sides are true.  One might imagine a condition where a poor cow did succumb to the symptoms of a farming problem and had to be put down.  Of course a farmer would be motivated to fix the problem to keep his cows healthy.  And anyone inspecting the facility afterwards would not see a lame cow.  Not saying that's what happened but could be a circumstance that someone might want to exploit for reasons that are not of integrity.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Aug 19, 2014 09:39

          Alexandra More;


          No offense, but. It is none of you business. Except that OUR representatives do their jobs and properly inspect the farm. This farm is privately owned. What PETA did amounted to trespass. They should have been charged.

           Any gestating critter can appear to be run-down. Doesn't mean they are in threat of passing away.

           Bleeding from the nose could have been caused by any number of things. How do we know PETA didn't cause it?

            You have not shown any documentation of what happens in the milking parlor. None.

             Not only has this farm not been found to be in non-compliance, but its milk has passed inspection also. That is all anyone needs to know.

             Again. Mind your own business.



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