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Livestock auction workers plead no contest in animal cruelty case

Livestock auction workers plead to charges after animal rights group releases video showing abuse
Animal rights group calls for city of Ontario to shut down livestock auction, claiming abuse

Two workers from an Inland Empire livestock auction facility pleaded no contest Friday to animal cruelty charges, authorities said.

Gustavo Rivas and Miguel Patino Torrez entered pleas in San Bernardino County Superior Court to one misdemeanor count each of animal cruelty.

They were immediately sentenced to two years' probation and barred from working with, owning or possessing animals for five years. The two were also ordered to pay court fees and fines totaling $290 each and to pay $250 to the Inland Valley Humane Society.

The charges were filed after an animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, released a hidden-camera video in 2012 that showed workers at Ontario Livestock Sales beating, throwing and neglecting injured, lame or sick animals. Five other workers also have been charged and their cases are pending, the animal rights group said.

Last month, Horacio Santorsola, the owner of the livestock auction, pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges under California’s “downer" law, which prohibits the sale, transfer or abuse of injured livestock. He was also sentenced to two years' probation.

Mercy for Animals has urged the city of Ontario to close down the facility.

"The owner of this auction allowed a culture of cruelty and neglect to run rampant under his watch," said the president of Mercy For Animals, Nathan Runkle, in a statement released Friday.

Auction facility officials could not be reached for comment late Friday.

For Inland Empire news follow @James_Barragan

james.barragan@latimes.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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