May 14, 2021 - Be Vigilant When Hiring Employees to Care for Your Animals


Friday, May 14, 2021 - In 2019, videos of alleged animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms were captured by the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM). Whether you followed the story or watched those videos, the idea that any employee would harm an animal is unacceptable. While ensuring that your animal care practices are beyond reproach is the first line of defense to protecting livestock, producers must also ensure employees are there for the right reason – to provide exceptional care to livestock.

“Unfortunately, it’s a common strategy for some animal rights activist organizations to have individuals go undercover on farms to record videos that can be taken out of context, stage scenes of animal mistreatment, or encourage abuse to record it without doing anything to stop it,” says Casey Kinler, communications manager, Animal Agriculture Alliance.

As Fair Oaks Farms continued to deal with the backlash of these allegations for several months, the alliance offered seven tips to remind producers to be vigilant when hiring employees:

  1. Thoroughly screen applicants, verify information, and check all references.
  2. Be cautious of individuals who try to use a college ID, have out-of-state license plates, or are looking for short-term work.
  3. When interviewing, look for answers that appear rehearsed or include incorrect use of farm terminology.
  4. Research applicants to see if they have a public social media profile or website/blog. Look for any questionable content or connections to activist organizations.
  5. Require all employees to sign your animal care policy. Provide training and updates on proper animal handling.
  6. Mandate that employees report any mistreatment of any animal to management immediately.
  7. Watch for red flags. For example, is an employee coming to work unusually early or staying late and going into areas of the farm not required for his/her job?

Never cut corners when hiring.  Always trust your gut, Kinler says. “If something doesn’t seem right, explore it further. Be vigilant and never cut corners on your hiring process, even if you need to hire someone quickly.”

While investigating every job applicant may be time-consuming, it can ultimately save your company’s reputation.

“As always, it is important to work with local legal counsel to ensure compliance with federal and state laws for your hiring process,” Kinler says.

For more detailed information on hiring, farm security resources, and background information on animal rights activist organizations, visit You can also contact the Alliance by emailing

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