Cattle Repeatedly Shot in the Head; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
October 15, 2021

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Jefferson, Wis. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing two recent violations of law at Vallia Foods, LLC, outside Jefferson. In response, PETA sent a letter this morning to Jefferson County District Attorney Monica Hall, calling on her to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible for the incidents.

On September 27, a steer was still mobile after workers shot him in the head twice and still standing after they shot him five times—it took a sixth shot to render him unconscious. On October 1, a cow was still standing and trying to evade a captive-bolt gun after workers shot her twice—it took four shots total before she was rendered unconscious.

“These disturbing reports show that this steer and this cow both experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Vallia Foods,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation in behalf of these animals and urging everyone to help prevent more animals from suffering in 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, sheep, pigs, 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 Hall follows.

October 15, 2021

The Honorable Monica Hall

Jefferson County District Attorney

Dear Ms. Hall:

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 Vallia Foods, LLC, and the worker(s) responsible for shooting animals in the head up to six times, leaving them wounded and conscious, on two recent occasions at the company’s slaughterhouse located at 3705 Hwy. 89, outside Jefferson. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

October 4, 2021

[O]n October 1, 2021 … [t]he fourth animal (Brown Swiss Cow) of the day was brought into the stunning area where its head was restrained in the head restrainer. IPP [FSIS Inspection Program Personnel] observed establishment personnel place and fire the held-held captive bolt (HHCB) device. The animal remained conscious and was standing upright, pulled her head backward with the head remaining in the restrainer. The stunning operator … made a second attempt to render the animal unconscious. The animal remained upright, [her] eyes were tracking movement and made attempts to avoid the HHCB. The Establishment Manager … then made a third attempt with the HHCB device and failed to render the animal unconscious. [The establishment manager] made a fourth attempt and succeeded in rendering the animal unconscious. … IPP inspected the head after it had been removed from the carcass. IPP, referring to the training used by the establishment “Observation of Stunning Placement in Cattle”, observed that the placement of three puncture holes were lower than prescribed.1

September 27, 2021

The second animal (Holstein steer) of the day was brought into the stunning area where [his] head was restrained in the head restrainer. IPP observed establishment personnel place the … HHCB … onto the head of the animal and heard the HHCB being fired. The animal remained conscious and was standing upright and ambulated backward out of the head restrainer. Establishment personnel then made a second attempt to render the animal unconscious with the back-up HHCB device. The animal showed the same signs of being conscious – the animal remained upright, [his] eyes were tracking movement and [he] ambulated. Establishment personnel had the HHCB used for the first attempt ready for the third attempt. The third attempt was unsuccessful in rendering the animal unconscious. Establishment personnel tried to render the animal unconscious with a fourth and fifth stun attempt, both were ineffective. The animal remained standing, and [his] eyes were tracking movement. Establishment personnel made the determination that the HHCB was not adequate and then utilized a pistol to successfully render the animal unconscious.2

This conduct appears to violate Wis. Stat. § 951.02. Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.3

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 25 Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Vallia Foods, LLC (October 4, 2021)

2FSIS District 25 Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Vallia Foods, LLC (September 27, 2021)

3See 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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