Livestock Auction Owner Convicted of Animal Cruelty Following MFA Investigation

A Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at Ontario Livestock Sales, the largest livestock market in southern California, has led to the historic conviction of the facility owner. This morning, Horacio Santorsola pled guilty to violating California’s criminal animal cruelty laws by permitting animals who were too sick or injured to stand or walk to be beaten and sold for the human food supply.

Section 599f of the California Penal Code, also known as the “downer law,” prohibits livestock auctions from selling, holding, and transporting animals who are too sick or injured to stand up or walk. Downed animals are more likely to carry diseases that threaten public health if allowed to enter the human food supply. Yet at Ontario Livestock Sales, downed animals were routinely sold, transported, and left to suffer for extended periods of time.

Santorsola was sentenced to 2 years probation and ordered to pay court fees and a fine totaling $1000 to be paid to the Inland Valley Humane Society. Seven of Santorsola’s employees have also been charged with criminal cruelty to animals. Their cases are still pending.

Here is the hidden-camera video that led to the conviction:


Today’s conviction follows a landmark decision by the Appellate Division of the San Bernardino Superior Court affirming the validity of California’s one-of-a-kind “downer” law and making clear that non-ambulatory animals deserve heightened protections against neglect, abuse, and malicious cruelty. Mercy For Animals praises the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office for pursuing justice in this important case.

The best way to help animals suffering in livestock markets and factory farms is to simply leave them off our plates. For tips on transitioning to a healthy and humane vegan diet, visit today.