Cow Repeatedly Shot in the Head; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
February 23, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Westport, Mass.

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Meatworks, a slaughterhouse in Westport. In response, the group sent a letter today to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the worker(s) responsible for shooting a cow in the head four times. The animal was still standing and looking around after the first three shots, which were misplaced, and was finally incapacitated by the fourth shot.

“This disturbing report shows that this cow experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Meatworks,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the cow 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, visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Quinn follows.

February 23, 2021

The Honorable Thomas M. Quinn III

Bristol County District Attorney

Dear Mr. Quinn:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Meatworks and the worker(s) responsible for repeatedly shooting a cow in the head—which resulted in the wounded animal enduring an extended period of suffering before it was finally ended with a fourth shot—on January 29 at its slaughterhouse located at 287 State Rd. in Westport. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“After the first cow of the day was loaded … the first captive bolt stun attempt was ineffective as evidenced by [the fact that] the animal remained standing and alert with normal blinking and eye tracking. The second captive bolt attempt was immediately performed … and again the animal did not lose consciousness as evidenced by [the fact that] the animal remaining standing and alert with normal blinking and eye tracking. The establishment employees then attempted to stun the cow with the first captive bolt that had been reloaded. … [T]he animal dropped slightly and closed its eyes, however within a couple of seconds opened its eyes again and had normal blinking and was alert looking around the room. On the fourth attempt, the establishment successful[ly] stunned the animal … [o]n post-mortem investigation of the skull, there were three holes off the midline to the cow’s left that penetrated the sinus cavity. The fourth hole was 1/2 inch higher than the previous three and directly on midline that penetrated the cranium as evidenced by brain matter being observed.”1

This conduct appears to violate M.G.L.A. 272 § 77. Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.2

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


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda E. Lilyestrom, Notice of Suspension, Meatworks (Jan. 29, 2021)

2See Nat’l. Meat Assoc. v. Harris, 132 S. Ct. 965, 974 n.10 (2012) (“. . . States may exact civil or criminal penalties for animal cruelty or other conduct that also violates the [Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA)]. See [21 U.S.C.] §678; cf. Bates v. Dow Agrosciences, LLC, 544 U.S. 431, 447 (2005) (holding that a preemption clause barring state laws ‘in addition to or different’ from a federal Act does not interfere with an ‘equivalent’ state provision). Although the FMIA preempts much state law involving slaughterhouses, it thus leaves some room for the States to regulate.”).

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