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Cruel Slaughter Video Highlights Need for Harsher Penalty for Animal Welfare Offenders

Illegal LA Slaughterhouse Proves that Locally-Sourced Meat Might Not Always be Ethical

As the horrific conditions on factory farms continue to be brought to the public’s attention, compassionate consumers are turning to local suppliers to buy their meat, under the impression that the animals are treated more “humanely” at these outlets. Unfortunately, this is not always a safe assumption to make.

Photo by Marji BeachRescued sheep at a California Animal sanctuary.

Earlier this month, the owner of an unlicensed illegal slaughter facility of in Los Angeles County, who supplied “local” meat, was arrested after shocking hidden-camera footage, showed him slitting the throat of two animals and letting them bleed to death.

The video clip, released last Friday by Mercy for Animals, shows 26-year-old Roberto Celedon picking up a goat, sawing its throat open, and letting it thrash about and slowly bleed to death. He then slaughters a sheep the same way.

Such a complete disregard for life, be it animal or human, is deeply disturbing.

“The blatant cruelty towards the goat and sheep at this facility is nothing short of horrifying and must be punished to the full extent of the law,” veterinarian and farmed animal welfare expert Dr. Amraiti May said after viewing the footage.

Los Angeles County Animal Control officers raided Celedon’s facility and rescued dozens of animals being held there.  The animals, that include a horse, five cattle, 14 goats and nine sheep, are now being rehabilitated at The Gentle Barn, a sanctuary for abused animals in Santa Clarita. According to a report in the blog Animal Connection, many of the rescued animals were suffering from malnutrition, parasites, fever, and infected open sores. Some of the goats had gone blind from untreated eye infections.

Celedon was arrested and charged with a felony under California Penal Code 597(b) which states that every person who “tortures, torments,” “cruelly kills any animal” or “subjects any animal to needless suffering” is guilty of a crime punishable by a fine of not more than $20,000 and/or imprisonment in excess of one year. He was also cited for numerous violations of the California Food and Agriculture Code for operating without a license and for failure to meet building and sanitation standards required by California law.

How much time Celedon will actually serve for his heinous offence remains to be seen. The severity of these punishments is the subject of an ongoing debate that highlights two major flaws within our contemporary legal structure — the fact that animals are considered property, and the idea that animal suffering is necessary.

As we continue to discover that animals lead emotional lives, are capable of suffering, and possesses intelligence that is comparable to our own, the laws that dictate their rights must be modified accordingly. It is difficult to believe that in this day and age a sheep has the same rights as an inanimate chesterfield, however this remains the unfortunate reality. As long as animals are considered property, and their suffering is seen as being legitimate and necessary, it will remain difficult to prosecute animal cruelty offenders and improve welfare standards on farms, within laboratories, and all other places where animal exploitation occurs.

Celedon should never be allowed to “care” for another living being. Not only has he tortured animals to make a quick buck, he has also betrayed the trust of people attempting to vote with their dollars for a more ethical food production system. Harsher punishments for animal welfare offenders like Celedon are long overdue, as are increased legal protections for those who endure such suffering at our hands.


Laura Bridgeman has long been interested in environmental issues. After graduating from university in Canada, she came to work with the Earth Island Institute to follow her passion. She works closely with Ric O’Barry’s Save Japan Dolphins project and is also involved in fostering youth leadership with the Institute’s New Leaders Initiative.

Laura Bridgeman
Laura Bridgeman is director of Sonar, an organization that advocates for dolphin and whale personhood, and Campaign & Communications Specialist at Earth Island's International Marine Mammal Project.

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