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Investigation reveals cruelty from Samuel’s past

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One year after Samuel and Hanks (RIP) arrival at Animal Place, Animal Outlook released their undercover investigation. Here is what they found.



Undercover Investigator Goes Public to Reveal Animal Cruelty on California Dairy Farm

“Dead on arrival” dairy is failing cows–and failing with consumers

After a two-year career working undercover inside several factory farms, Animal Outlook investigator Erin Wing now reveals her identity, stepping out of the shadows to shine a light on the stomach-churning horrors she witnessed at her most recent — and last — investigation at Dick Van Dam Dairy, a factory farm in Southern California.

While there, Erin documented some of the most egregious cruelties she has seen in her career, along with barbaric (yet standard) dairy industry practices. She was also able to rescue a calf who now lives at a sanctuary (more on the calf rescue below).

What Erin witnessed was one of many dairy farms in its death throes with innocent cows caught in the middle of a battle between a world progressing and an industry fighting tooth and nail to keep us entrenched in the past.

This shocking footage underscores the urgency to end this inherently cruel industry once and for all. It’s time for consumers to ditch dairy, and for companies like Dean Foods to pivot to vegan products.

Animal Outlook’s undercover footage revealed:

  • Cows so sick or injured they are unable to walk subjected to extremely cruel treatment by workers who sprayed them in the face with high powered water hoses; kicked, jabbed and shocked them; and closed metal gates on them.
  • Workers routinely lifting these so-called “downer” cows with a tractor and dragging them with a metal device called a “hip clamp.” They lifted one suffering cow this way and dangled her almost 20 feet in the air to move her over a wall, and then dragged her backward over a cement slab.
  • Sick cows left to suffer without medication, veterinary care or euthanasia. They languished for days until they died on their own, with no access to food or water while they were unable to stand.
  • Workers and a manager hitting cows with wooden canes and metal pipes in daily acts of extreme aggression and violence, sometimes as a form of retaliation against the animals.
  • Workers and managers punching and kicking cows, and twisting their tails.
  • Squalid and filthy conditions – cows forced to walk through thick feces and newborn calves unable to escape thousands of flies covering their fragile bodies.
  • Shocking mortality rates of cows and calves, as well as high rates of injuries and illnesses – likely resulting from the putrid conditions and lack of care and treatment. One calf was born dead,  and was pulled roughly from his or her mother. The mother cow didn’t have the benefit of pain management during this incredibly painful and rough incident.
  • Cows repeatedly shocked with an electric prod as they were taken away to slaughter.
  • Workers cruelly using automated gates to try to force cows to move in tightly packed spaces.

Turning hidden cameras into instruments of truth, undercover investigators are on the front lines of justice for animals — and consumers. Erin’s courage resulted in hidden camera footage that is changing the way the world sees what — and who — they’re eating. And the against-all-odds rescue of two young calves.

In more ways than one, dairy is dead on arrival. Cows must be pregnant in order to produce milk, so calves are mere byproducts to the industry. At Dick Van Dam, a slow and painful death was commonplace for calves. In one instance, a stillborn calf was pulled violently from his suffering mother. Many living calves were simply left in the hot California sun, covered in flies and slowly dying.

Meanwhile, consumers are slowly but surely realizing that the milk they drink does not come from happy cows, but relies on the broken bond between mother and child, and the violent exploitation of these individuals’ bodies. The dairy industry is dying, but not fast enough.

We also followed a truck carrying so-called “spent” cows from the factory farm to a stockyard. Later, we documented trucks going from that stockyard to American Beef Packers (ABP), the site of the former Westland/Hallmark Beef Packing plant that closed down after issuing a massive beef recall following the Humane Society of the United States’ 2008 undercover investigation, raising the question of whether this facility’s cows are ending up killed at this infamous site. ABP currently sells beef to the federal government for its National School Lunch Program.

Animal Outlook submitted investigative materials to county law enforcement agencies. Despite our overwhelming video evidence depicting dozens of apparent violations of California’s laws against animal cruelty and neglect, local law enforcement declined to recommend criminal charges. However, we are still actively pursuing justice for these animals through other means. And after reviewing the investigation, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Dick Van Dam Dairy and the individuals caught on camera for violating state and local animal cruelty laws.

The dairy industry sentences calves to either a miserable death or a life of torment. Because cows must have babies in order to produce milk (like any other mammal), their calves are little more than a byproduct of the milk industry and are either left to suffer and die like on Dick Van Dam Dairy, or sold for veal or meat.

Following this investigation, we rescued two young calves from the facility. Unfortunately, one of the calves, Hank, was too sick to survive. His companion Samuel, however, lives on at Animal Place sanctuary in California, bringing hope that together we can build a kinder world for all.



“I carry a small Holstein calf figurine to remember Hank. The effects of farmed life and the dairy industry were too much for him to survive. That’s why I’m still here. After working as an undercover investigator for years, I’m signing on to continue as an animal rights advocate for many more years to fight for animals like Hank.”

Erin, Animal Outlook investigator




Our investigators followed a truck from Dick Van Dam to a factory that produces milk for Alta Dena and TruMoo, brands owned by the nation’s largest milk producer: Dean Foods.

Before declaring bankruptcy and selling most of its assets to Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods, which produces 10 percent of the US milk supply, claimed that it “requires that at all times all cattle are treated humanely and with patience, dignity and respect” — yet it hid the horrors endured by gentle mother cows and their babies in the dairy industry behind the playful packaging found on brands like TruMoo, which is marketed to kids in schools across the country.

Soon after Dean Food’s declaration of bankruptcy, Borden Dairy followed suit, citing “market challenges facing the dairy industry” as grounds for its own bankruptcy filing. Cruel dairy is a dying industry, evidenced by its desperate efforts to squash plant milk labels and even a price-fixing conspiracy involving the killing of half a million young cows to reduce the nation’s milk supply and thus artificially (and illegally) inflate the price of milk.

This cruelty should be the final nail in the coffin to the dying dairy industry.



23 Responses so far.

  1. rita says:

    This is so disturbing that this continues. This horrific cruelty must stop. It is a barbaric way to treat animals. I, for one, will never touch milk again…..am using Almond milk instead.

  2. AdeleFishman says:

    I read w/HORROR your article about the cruelty in the Dairy Industry to cows and calves!!! Pls punish the owners of these dairy farms w/prison sentences!

  3. Wenning Pat says:

    All animal factory farms need to be shut down. Nothing but torture, cruelty & abuse happens daily to these poor animals ( cows, chickens, pigs, ducks, geese, rabbits, sheep & animals for their fur. The owners, factory managers & workers all need to be arrested & handed a huge fine.

  4. Remedios Martin says:

    This cruelty to animals makes me sick ! I Cried! Thank you for your hard work and continued dedication to keep these animals safe . Animal cruelty must be stopped . I will stop buying products from those mentioned dairy companies and possibly stop buying dairy products. Please make those criminals accountable for their crimes. Thank you!

    • Peter Katz says:

      Thank you for your conscientious choice! If you need any help with recipes and diet, you can find resources here on our site, and also you can feel free to message us on facebook or instagram!

  5. ELIZABETH says:

    Disgusting, hideous & insanely cruel & not even necessary for human life!

  6. Bruce Shelton says:

    I salute Erin for her courage, concern and compassion. How a nation treats its animals is a measure of how far it has advanced as a civilization. Clearly, America has a long way to go…

  7. I question the statement: cows must be pregnant to deliver milk.
    I grew up on a farm in the Meridian, Idaho area. We had about 15 dairy cows. Their was never a bull on our farm and a cow never left our farm to visit a bull.

    Dad milked our cows for years without being pregnant. So I definitely KNOW cows do not have to be pregnant to obtain milk.
    When a cow grew to old to give milk or for some other reason. Dad loaded the cow into a trailer, then shot the cow in the forehead and drove the dead cow to the rendering plant located in Caldwell, Idaho. This was in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

  8. Cindy Cabral says:

    Can’t even imagine this industry for being so cruel to these animals not humane at all. I an glad though you were there to investigate this awful treatmemt from these dairy farms these poor cows don’t deserve this cruel treatment. Thank you

  9. Madeleine says:

    The way animals are treated is horrible…Why does the government allow the torture of not only baby animals, but the treatment of adult animals……I surely don’t understand it….It must be for the money…..I refuse to eat meat or drink milk…and I’m healthier for it………
    Madeleine Knowlton…….

  10. Deb Schaver says:

    I did Not know how these poor animals suffer for dairy. Please continue to fight for them and make it more public of their suffering. And make the process of these dairy farms more public! Everyone should know what suffering and abuse these poor animals are forced to endure! Thank you

  11. Karen Cucci says:

    This industry should be shut down once and for all. Cruelty to to animals is not acceptable under any circumstance!

  12. Patricia McCall says:

    I eat food, I drink milk I am human. I don’t believe that animals have to be treated cruelly in order to feed humans. Surely we can make changes that allow for humane actions to take place in the industry that provides what we purchase in the grocery store.

    • Dollie says:

      All factory farming must be shut down. Animals need to be treated humanly and with dignity. No animals should ever be abused.

  13. Judy Rutkowski says:

    This for me is so sad and heart breaking. This animal cruelty to the Mama cows and calves have to stop. The dairy farms need to be accountable. I hope Samuel thrives. So sorry Hank was not able to survive. I wish life could be better for all animals.

  14. Chris says:

    Truly Disgusting the Dairy and farming of cows and other animals .. truly Sub Human beings involved .