Federal Probe Sought: Cow Hung, Stabbed, Repeatedly Shot While Conscious – PETA

For Immediate Release:
January 7, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Homedale, Idaho – PETA has obtained recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports revealing violations of federal law at Owyhee Meat Company near Homedale. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. attorney for the District of Idaho to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the worker responsible for shackling and hanging a conscious cow after ineffectively shooting her twice and cutting her throat twice. The cow, who cried out in pain during the violent ordeal, was finally rendered unconscious by another shot. Three months earlier, Owyhee Meat Company was warned by the USDA after a worker repeatedly prodded a cow who “excessively” cried out.

“This latest disturbing eyewitness report shows that a cow endured a prolonged, agonizing death at Owyhee Meat Company,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the cows who suffered at this facility and urging all compassionate members of the public who are disturbed by this cruelty to go vegan and help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do, and that the only way to help prevent them from suffering in slaughterhouses is not to eat them.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis follows.

January 7, 2020

The Honorable Bart M. Davis

United States Attorney

District of Idaho

Dear Mr. Davis,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Owyhee Meat Company and its workers responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.”[1] At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 3408 Industrial Rd. outside of Homedale in Owyhee County, its staff cut the throat of a conscious cow as the animal cried out and repeatedly electroshocked a cow, as documented in the attached reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the reports, federal officials documented the following:

  • December 10, 2019: “The SPHV [Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] heard but did not directly observe one hand-held captive bolt (HHCB) device discharge and heard a carcass dropping to the ground. The SPHV then heard a bovine vocalize …. The SPHV observed the stun operator apply a stun to the animal lying on the floor with the backup hand-held captive bolt (HHCB) device. The SPHV observed the stun operator then shackle, hang, and stick the animal for bleeding. The SPHV observed the animal was still rhythmically breathing and exhibiting a righting reflex. The bovine then let out another sustained vocalization after being stuck a second time by the stun operator. At this time, the SPHV observed the stun operator apply a third stunning attempt with the re-loaded backup HHCB device and the animal ceased vocalization and movement, with [the] head hanging limp.”[2]
  • September 11, 2019: “[A federal inspector] … heard a cow repeatedly vocalizing. She immediately … observed a plant employee repeatedly prodding a … cow … balking at the entrance to the stunning area. The … cow continued to vocalize excessively. [The inspector] instructed the employee to immediately stop prodding the cow. [A second federal inspector] arrived … and clearly heard the repeated vocalizations …. [A facility employee] … indicated the employee was not authorized to use the prod. … Any use of such implements which, in the opinion of the inspector, is excessive, is prohibited.”[3]

The Federal Meat Inspection Act classifies such offenses as misdemeanors and provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.[4] The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that FSIS enforcement actions alone are insufficient to deter future violations and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public. Given that the FSIS “fully supports the investigation of all those involved in alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act” and that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work”[5] with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s Enforcement and Litigation Division to investigate and bring appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the above violations.

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely,

Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

2FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Owyhee Meat Company (Dec. 11, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ba9a70a4-2287-4aa1-a266-6ba6fc35a980/m454-owyhee-nos-121119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Owyhee Meat Company (Sept. 12, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e456f94f-7d82-4ca5-8a19-fa70be8a2d3e/m454-owyhee-noie-091219.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

421 U.S.C. § 676.

5U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (Jan. 7, 2011) https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/01/7/under-secretary-food-safety-shares-some-insight-humane-handling-livestock (Last accessed on Jan. 6, 2020).

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

[2]FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Owyhee Meat Company (Dec. 11, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ba9a70a4-2287-4aa1-a266-6ba6fc35a980/m454-owyhee-nos-121119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[3]FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Owyhee Meat Company (Sept. 12, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e456f94f-7d82-4ca5-8a19-fa70be8a2d3e/m454-owyhee-noie-091219.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[4]21 U.S.C. § 676.

[5]U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (Jan. 7, 2011) https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/01/7/under-secretary-food-safety-shares-some-insight-humane-handling-livestock (Last accessed on Jan. 6, 2020).

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