A Scott County animal control officer and veterinarian visited a hog farm west of Eldridge late last week to investigate an animal rights group's complaint of animal abuse.

Investigators were at Grandview Farms, owned by Tom and Joni Dittmer on Friday, Tom Dittmer and Pam Arndt, executive director of the Human Society of Scott County, said Monday. Tom Dittmer said investigators were on site for about five hours.

Last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint with the Scott County Sheriff and County Attorney that claims workers repeatedly bludgeoned pigs in the head with a steel-headed sledgehammer, beat pigs with metal gate rods, kicked pigs in the testicles, scraped pigs with sharp pliers, shot pigs in the head to kill them, fatally crushed piglets, deprived lame animals of food and water for up to four days and failed to treat sores, abscesses and infections.

The complaint is based on allegations from a former employee fired for misconduct who the Dittmers say is disgruntled because he was denied unemployment insurance.

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Dittmer, who described the visit as "thorough," said he wasn't told how long the investigation might take, and Arndt said she didn't have a timeline for the investigation.

Grandview Farms produces more than 160,000 hogs a year and employs more than 30 people. The confinement operation has expanded twice in the past three years.

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