A Union County dairy farm is being investigated over allegations of animal cruelty, and an employee of the business has been arrested, authorities said Wednesday.

A Union County dairy farm is being investigated over allegations of animal cruelty, and an employee of the business has been arrested, authorities said Wednesday.

The office of Marysville city attorney Tim Aslaner confirmed late Wednesday that Billy Joe Gregg Jr., 25, was arrested and charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty, all misdemeanors. He is being held at the Tri-County Jail. Gregg appeared before Judge Michael Grigsby in Marysville municipal court on May 27 for arraignment; the judge set Gregg a bond of $100,000, and ordered that the defendant must put up $10,000 in cash or property to leave the Tri-County Jail. Gregg faces a $750 fine and 90 days in jail on each charge.

Last week, Chicago-based animal rights organization Mercy For Animals released a video on the Internet depicting what it said were instances of animal abuse at Conklin Dairy Farms on U.S. Route 42 north of Plain City.

According to Mercy For Animals' Web site, the footage was taken with a hidden camera during a four-week investigation between April and May.

According to MFA, the organization contacted the Marysville city prosecutor's office immediately after completing the investigation.

The video depicts a man, his face blurred, repeatedly punching cows and calves in the face, stabbing cows in stalls with a pitchfork, throwing calves to the ground before stomping on their faces and beating other cows repeatedly in the face with a tire iron.

Union County Humane Society executive director Steffen Baldwin said on May 27 that an investigation is being conducted.

"I can tell you at this point that the investigation is ongoing and we have enlisted the aid of the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Enforcement Division," Baldwin stated in an e-mail message to ThisWeek. "In the meantime, we have reached out to the vice president of the American Humane Association, who is flying in from out of state on June 3 to meet with me and discuss their voluntary Certified Farm Animal Program known as The Humane Touch. Conklin Dairy Farms has expressed interest in having his farm go through the training and certification process."

Baldwin said local legislators have been contacted, as well.

"We have also reached out to our local legislators to request a bill that would turn animal cruelty into a felony and not a misdemeanor," he said. "I was informed by Rep. Dave Burke's office that there is a vote today (May 27) on House Bill 55, which would turn animal cruelty into a first-degree misdemeanor after the second offense which is an improvement to the current laws but still puts us behind 40 other states in terms of what we can do for these sorts of offenses."

Conklin Dairy Farms could not be reached for comment; an automated message said the farm's voicemail box was full.

A statement issued by a public relations firm on behalf of Conklin Farms reads: "Our family takes the care of our cows and calves very seriously. The video shows animal care that is clearly inconsistent with the high standards we set for our farm and its workers, and we find the specific mistreatment shown on the video to be reprehensible and unacceptable."

The Associated Press reported May 27 that Conklin Dairy Farms has asked veterinarians to independently review the Mercy For Animals video.
Conklin said in a statement Thursday that the undercover video is missing context of how the farm is operated responsibly.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Holly Zachariah contributed to this story.