A Litigation Article from All-Creatures.org

No Justice for 1,000 Pigs Left to Die Slowly in Iowa

From IDA In Defense of Animals
November 2022

Judge overturned original charges of first-degree criminal mischief, two counts of livestock neglect, 10-year prison jail sentence and $1,370 fine.

dying Piglet
Not actual victim of this litigation. Dying Piglet image from Shutterstock

In June, the decomposing bodies of more than 1,000 sentient pigs were discovered at two facilities in Sac County, Iowa, where they had been abandoned and left to die slowly of hunger and thirst. The person responsible was arrested and charged, but unbelievably isn’t facing any consequences that anywhere meet the severity of this heartbreaking crime.

Elana Laber, who was responsible for overseeing these facilities, was arrested after the Sac County Sheriff’s Office received complaints about dead pigs. The deputies who investigated discovered that power had been turned off at both sites and that there were pigs there who were dead and decomposing.

Laber initially claimed someone had shut the breakers off the night before, but a veterinarian determined they had been dead for at least a week.

Laber was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal mischief and two counts of livestock neglect and faced up to 10 years in jail for each count of criminal mischief and up to one year for neglect.

More than 16,000 In Defense of Animals supporters spoke out on their behalf, urging Sac County Attorney Ben Smith to seek the maximum prosecution.

She pleaded guilty to the charges in September in a plea deal that reduced each of the charges to one count. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison on one count of criminal mischief and three years of probation after that. She was also fined $1,370.

However, in a deeply disappointing move, on November 21, Sac County District Judge Derek Johnson dismissed charges of first-degree felony criminal mischief, suspended the 10-year prison sentence, suspended the small fine, and placed Laber on probation for just three years.

What happened to those pigs was a terrible, unimaginable tragedy that could have, and should have, been prevented — and would have caused much wider outrage had they been animal companions like dogs or cats. Sadly, farmed animals typically receive neither the respect nor the protection that other animals do, and instead unjustly suffer horrific abuses on a daily basis.

Hopefully, this tragic story will help more people consider the lives of farmed animals, and make compassionate choices by leaving them off of their plates.

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