Animals Repeatedly Shot in the Head; PETA Seeks Federal Probe

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Spring Mills, Pa.

PETA has obtained recent U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing at least half a dozen recent violations of federal law at Abattoir Associates Inc., in Centre County. In response, the group sent a letter this morning to Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Bruce Brandler, calling on him to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible.

An August 31 report reveals that Abattoir Associates workers repeatedly shot animals in the head five times during the month of August alone. In one of those incidents, a worker shot a pig twice with a handgun and then exited the kill floor. An inspector had to point out that the pig was still standing before the worker returned to shoot the animal a third and final time. In another, a cow was still conscious after a worker shot her above the eye with a captive-bolt gun, and the worker had to shoot her a second time.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that these animals suffered prolonged, agonizing deaths at Abattoir Associates,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of every pig and cow who suffered at this facility and is urging everyone to help keep animals out of slaughterhouses by going vegan.”

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

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Brandler follows.

October 7, 2021

The Honorable Bruce D. Brandler

Acting United States Attorney

Middle District of Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Brandler,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Abattoir Associates Inc. 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 119 Cooper St. in Spring Mills, Centre County, its staff have repeatedly shot at least six animals in the head in recent weeks, leaving them wounded and suffering before finally being rendered unconscious, 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:

  • September 22, 2021: “While trying to stun [a cow] in the locking head gate, with a Cash Special HD .25 hand-held captive bolt device, the heifer lunged forward. As the establishment personnel performing the stunning attempted to pull the device away, it discharged, striking the animal above the right eye. Immediate effective corrective actions were taken by the establishment personnel by reloading (the captive bolt) and effectively stunning the heifer.”2
  • August 31, 2021: “On two separate occasions, August 18, and August 27, 2021 … humane handling non-compliances for Stunning Effectiveness occurred. In each instance, it required the stunning operator more than one attempt to stun the animal. … In addition, this is the fifth occurrence of a stunning effectiveness incident in the month of August 2021.”3
  • August 9, 2021: “A market swine was being stunned with firearm. … The plant employee took the first shot with the .22 caliber handgun. There was no vocalizing and the animal remained standing. The plant then took one more shot with the same weapon. The person performing the stunning had exited the kill floor and emptied the handgun of all live rounds. Inspection personnel informed the stunner that the hog was still standing and sensible. The stunner then reloaded the handgun and successfully rendered it insensible with the third shot.”4

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 $1,000.5 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”6 with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA)’s Enforcement and Litigation Division (ELD) 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.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

17 U.S.C. § 1902.

2FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda E. Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Abattoir Associates Inc. (September 22, 2021)

3FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda E. Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Abattoir Associates Inc. (August 31, 2021)

4FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda E. Lilyestrom, Notice of Suspension, Abattoir Associates Inc. (August 9, 2021)

521 U.S.C. § 676.

6U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (Jan. 7, 2011) (Last accessed on October 1, 2021).

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