Bettencourt Dairies Worker Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty Charges


An Idaho dairy worker accused of animal cruelty pleaded guilty Wednesday, following charges that stem from a video showing workers' mistreatment of dairy cows, including slapping, hitting and stomping on animals.

Jesus Garza, 25, entered a guilty plea for misdemeanor animal cruelty at a 5th District Court hearing for poor treatment of cows at a facility operated by Bettencourt Dairies.

Video footage was collected at an investigation of Bettencourt's Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen, produced undercover when a member of Los Angeles, Calif.-based Mercy for Animals gained employment at the dairy.

After the story broke in October, Bettencourt owner Luis Bettencourt said he reacted by firing all employees seen in the video immediately after receiving an official complaint from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

"We fired all five employees, we put video cameras in the barns to monitor activity 24 hours a day, and hired an extra supervisor. We showed the video to all the other help who work in the facilities. We're taking the steps necessary to make sure it doesn't happen again."

On Thursday, Mercy for Animals released more footage from the undercover operation at the Dry Creek dairy, which shows Garza mistreating animals.

Two other workers depicted in the original MFA video, Jose Acensio and Javier Rojas-Loayza, are charged with criminal cruelty to animals and have warrants out for their arrest.