The killing floor at Bartels Packing—a slaughterhouse and meat-packing company in rural Oregon—is quiet right now. On October 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) temporarily suspended the company’s operations after USDA inspectors observed its inhumane slaughtering practices, which include repeatedly shooting cows in the skull with hand-held captive-bolt guns.
These guns are supposed to render animals unconscious immediately, but the margin of error is wide—especially when workers are rushing to stun frantic struggling animals. USDA inspectors at Bartels Packing observed that cows were repeatedly shot with captive-bolt guns on multiple occasions between August 3 and September 15. One Angus cow who was shot dislodged the bolt with a shake of the head. A worker then shot the cow a second time.
Shutting down a slaughterhouse—even temporarily—is a rare move by the USDA, but the abuse uncovered at Bartels Packing is far from uncommon. Many animals are still conscious and able to feel pain when their throats are cut open or they’re dumped into tanks of scalding-hot water.
As long as there’s demand for animal flesh, cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals will continue to face a terrifying and painful death on the killing floor. We can move closer to a day when every slaughterhouse is shuttered by going vegan and encouraging our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to do the same.