MEDIA RELEASE: Woman Guilty of Causing 1,000 Pigs’ Deaths Faces 20 Years Jail Time But Gets None

MEDIA RELEASE: Woman Guilty of Causing 1,000 Pigs’ Deaths Faces 20 Years Jail Time But Gets None

SAC CITY, Iowa (Nov. 22, 2022)In Defense of Animals, an animal advocacy organization with 250,000 members, decries the deplorable sentencing of an individual who pleaded guilty to causing the excruciating death of 1,000 sentient pigs by dehydration and starvation.

On June 30, 2022, at least 1,000 pigs were discovered in varying degrees of decomposition in two Sac County “pork finishing houses” on the 2400 block of Otter Avenue, about a half-mile apart. Elana Laber, a Sac County, Iowa woman who has farmed pigs for seven years, was responsible for overseeing the industrial farming units. 

Laber told investigating officer Capt. Scott Brouwer of the Sac County Sheriff’s Department that someone had shut off the breakers controlling the electricity, causing the death of the pigs the night before. However, a veterinarian determined the pigs were in decomposition for at least a week. A site manager told officers that the pigs and piglets had been dead for “a long time.”

Laber was arrested for failing to provide food and water to the animals. She was held at the Sac County Jail and later bailed out on a $22,000 bond.

On Nov. 21, Sac County District Judge Derek Johnson dismissed charges of first-degree felony criminal mischief and suspended a 10-year prison sentence, suspended a small fine, and placed Laber on probation for just three years.

Sioux City Journal reported additional charges of first-degree criminal mischief and two misdemeanors for animal neglect were waived as part of a plea deal.

Laber faced imprisonment up to 10 years for each count of criminal mischief and up to 365 days for animal neglect. Despite being found guilty, Laber has faced no consequences for her actions.

In Defense of Animals sent Sac County Attorney, Ben Smith, a letter signed by 16,396 animal advocates supporting the maximum prosecution of Elana Laber.

“We are shocked and disappointed at the pitiful sentence handed to this pig farmer who caused extreme animal neglect on a massive scale. Starvation and dehydration are dreadful ways to die, and the suffering each of these animals endured would have been excruciating. This case has exposed Iowa’s unjust laws, which serve only to preserve the total control of our fellow species solely to rob them of their freedom and the flesh on their bones,” stated Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals Senior Campaigner.

The ruling comes at a time when mass killings of “surplus” or sick farmed animals in Iowa are under extra scrutiny. Thousands of chickens and pigs have been killed by live burial, suffocation, and, increasingly, by intentional hyperthermia. Known as “ventilation shutdown plus,” farmers essentially cook animals alive who scream and suffer for hours.


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Contact: Doll Stanley,, (662) 809-4483

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in California with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of defending animals, their advocates, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.


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