The owner of the calf farm whose abusive practices were exposed by hidden-camera video has been sentenced to a year's probation and a $4,000 fine.
Kirt Espenson, owner of the E6 Cattle Company in Hart, had said the employees responsible for the abuse had been fired. He and the ranch foreman were charged with the Class A misdemeanor of cruelty to livestock.
The abuse was publicized by a group called Mercy for Animals.
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"Espenson's punishment is a slap on the wrist compared to the unimaginable suffering endured by the animals who were victims of malicious abuse and neglect under his watch," said Mercy For Animals' executive director Nathan Runkle. "This case should serve as a wake-up call to all compassionate citizens that Texas must do more to strengthen its animal cruelty laws."
Among the practices at E6, according to MFA, were:
-- Workers bludgeoning calves in their skulls with pickaxes and hammers
-- Beaten calves, still alive and conscious, thrown onto piles to slowly suffer and die
-- Workers kicking sick or injured calves in the head, and standing on their necks and ribs
-- Calves confined to squalid hutches, thick with manure and urine buildup, and barely large enough for the calves to turn around or fully extend their legs
-- Gruesome injuries, including open sores, swollen joints and severed hooves
-- Sick, injured and dying calves denied any medical care
Five former E6 employees face state-jail felony charges.