For Immediate Release:
October 21, 2020
David Perle 202-483-7382
Yankton, S.D. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports revealing violations of federal law at Cimpl’s Inc. in Yankton. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges.
On September 29, a worker shot a cow twice in the head, but the animal regained consciousness and tried to right herself after she was hoisted in the air, necessitating a third shot to render her unconscious. In October 2019, a worker shot a bull—whose throat had been cut—three times in the head before the animal finally lost consciousness and fell to the floor.
“Sensitive animals suffer every day in the meat industry, and this slaughterhouse can’t even ensure a quick death,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is asking anyone disturbed by these incidents to keep animals off their plates, which is the only way to stop this cruelty.”
Cimpl’s was cited by the USDA for four other incidents in a one-month span in 2017 in which bulls were shot in the head numerous times:
- On May 18, a bull remained standing after he was shot in the head; the captive-bolt gun malfunctioned on the next five attempts before he was finally stunned with the sixth shot.
- On May 30 and June 13, bulls who were shot in the head twice remained standing until they were shot a third time.
- On June 16, a captive-bolt gun “bounced” off a bull’s head on the first stunning attempt. The second shot penetrated his skull and rendered him unconscious.
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, pigs, sheep, 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.
PETA’s letter to Parsons follows.
October 21, 2020
The Honorable Ron Parsons
United States Attorney
District of South Dakota
Dear Mr. Parsons,
I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Cimpl’s 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 1000 Cattle Dr. in Yankton, its staff have ineffectively shot cattle in the head on at least six occasions—leaving animals conscious as they bled from the throat, hung upside down, and looked around—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 have documented the following:
- September 29, 2020: “IPP [FSIS Inspection Program Personnel] observed a mature Holstein cow enter the stunning area. … [T]he stunning employee applied the primary stun and a security stun with the pneumatic captive bolt. … The animal was slid out of the restrainer, shackled, hoisted, hung, and placed onto the production line. At this time, IPP observed the animal moving air in and out of its mouth and blinking its eyes with rapid, controlled eye movements. The animal was also performing … attempts to raise its head in line with its spine. The animal was deemed conscious based on these findings. [The] Plant Manager … instructed the senior stunning employee to re-stun the animal with the hand-held captive bolt located behind the sticking area. This stunning attempt successfully rendered the animal unconscious [as] noted by a cessation of signs of consciousness.”2
- October 17, 2019: “[A] mature angus bull enter[ed] the restrainer. … After the ritual cut was made, the Senior Stunner placed the pneumatic stunner on the animal’s head and fired. The animal remained standing and maintained purposeful eye movement. … The Senior Stunner applied a second shot with the pneumatic stunner which was also ineffective, and the animal’s demeanor did not change. The animal remained standing with purposeful eye movement. A third shot was applied which effectively rendered the animal unconscious.”3
- June 16, 2017: “[T]he stunning employee restrain[ed] the bull …. The … employee placed the pneumatic stunner directly on the bulls [sic] forehead, depressed the triggers, and the … stunner ‘bounced’ off the head. The bull remained standing and conscious. The … employee immediately applied a second stun … rendering the bull unconscious.”4
- June 13, 2017: “[T]he establishment restrain[ed] a bull .… After the first stun with the pneumatic stunner, the bull remained conscious and … standing, rhythmically breathing, and eye tracking. The … employee immediately applied a second stun …. The bull remained conscious and … standing, rhythmically breathing, and had a positive palpebral reflex and eye tracking. The … employee immediately applied a third stun … rendering the bull unconscious.”5
- May 30, 2017: “[A] … bull enter[ed] the stunning area. … When the stunning employee placed the pneumatic stunner directly onto the forehead and depressed the trigger … the bull remained standing. The … employee applied an immediate second stun … and the bull still remained standing. The … employee immediately applied a third stun … rendering the bull unconscious.”6
- May 18, 2017: “[A] … bull enter[ed] the stunning area. … After the first stun with the pneumatic stunner, the bull was still rhythmically breathing, blinking with a positive palpebral reflex and eye tracking, and remained standing. … The establishment employee attempted to re-stun the bull … however … the counterbalance stuck. The employee attempted … an additional four times and each time the counterbalance stuck. … On the fifth attempt … the bull was rendered unconscious.”7
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 $1,000.8 The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that at least three years of 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”9 with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you 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.
Assistant Manager of Investigations
17 U.S.C. § 1902.
2FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Est. M2460, Cimpl’s Inc. (Sept. 29, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/962270a8-f1f8-4c8c-aded-94841fd57d7a/m2460-noros-09292020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
3FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Est. M2460, Cimpl’s Inc. (Oct. 17, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/753943a3-f663-40be-98d8-fbab3f9a55f3/m2460-cimpl-nos-101719.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
4FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Est. M2460, Cimpl’s Inc. (June 16, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e30426d0-630e-41f8-9cdf-dc9b9b4ca84e/M2460-NOROS-061617.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
5FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, Reinstatement of Notice of Suspension, Est. M2460, Cimpl’s Inc. (June 13, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6e036ce9-ce41-4f2b-9274-76ac7c38a83f/M2460-NOROS-061317.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
6FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Est. M2460, Cimpl’s Inc. (May 30, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/cfc7513e-9647-4300-b5b9-8b4b8eb261fe/M2460-Suspension-053017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
7FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Est. M2460, Cimpl’s Inc. (May 19, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/c1a79d21-3d2b-4b40-9f08-62353e3ea4c9/M2460-NOIE-051917.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
821 U.S.C. § 676.
9U.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 Oct. 20, 2020).