Conscious Goat Shot Repeatedly, Throat Slashed; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
September 7, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Walnut Cove, N.C.

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at M. L. Mitchell and Son Meat Processing in Walnut Cove. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on District Attorney Tim Watson to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible for twice shooting a goat in the head as the animal remained standing and crying out, before cutting the conscious animal’s throat.

“This disturbing report shows that a goat experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at M. L. Mitchell and Son Meat Processing,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the goat who suffered at this facility and urging all compassionate members of the public who are disturbed by this cruelty 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 goats, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do.

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

PETA’s letter to Watson follows.

September 7, 2021

The Honorable Tim Watson

District Attorney of District 23

Dear Mr. Watson,

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 M. L. Mitchell and Son Meat Processing and the workers responsible for repeatedly shooting a goat in the head and cutting the conscious animal’s throat on August 16 at its slaughterhouse located at 401 Mitchell St. in Walnut Cove. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“[Inspection Program Personnel] identified an egregious humane handling non-compliance in which employees rendered multiple ineffective stunning attempts to a goat before cutting the goat’s neck to allow it to bleed out. The goat was loaded into the knock box where Employee 1 attempted to stun [the animal] using a .22 Magnum rifle. The stun attempt was unsuccessful as the goat remained standing and loudly vocalizing. Employee 1 handed the rifle to Employee 2 who had a better angle for the shot. Employee 2 immediately applied a second unsuccessful stun and the goat remained standing and vocalizing loudly. Employee 1 then entered the knock box and used a knife to cut the goat’s neck, causing the goat to bleed out.”1

This conduct appears to violate N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-360(a). FSIS’ action underscores that repeatedly shooting and cutting the throat of a conscious animal are not lawful activities conducted for providing food that would otherwise be exempt from prosecution. 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 80 Manager Todd Furey, Notice of Suspension, M. L. Mitchell and Son Meat Processing  (August 16, 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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