Conscious Pig Repeatedly Shot; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
December 14, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Denison, Iowa

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. in Denison, where a worker shot an immobile pig in the head twice with two captive-bolt guns, but the bleeding pig remained conscious and attempted to roll over until a third shot finally ended the animal’s suffering. A federal official who documented the incident instructed the worker to take the second and third shots in order to render the pig unconscious. In response, PETA sent a letter this morning calling on Crawford County Attorney Colin Johnson to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the worker.

“This disturbing report shows that a pig experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp.,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on this pig’s behalf 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 pigs, sheep, cows, 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 Johnson follows.

December 14, 2021

The Honorable Colin Johnson

Crawford County Attorney

Dear Mr. Johnson,

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 the Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. worker who repeatedly shot a pig in the head while the bleeding animal remained conscious on November 16 at the company’s slaughterhouse located at 800 Industrial Dr. in Denison. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

The employee attempted to stun the animal with one of the HHCB [handheld captive bolt] device[s], but the attempt was unsuccessful, and the animal remained conscious, attempting to roll over from a recumbent position. [USDA Inspection Program Personnel] observed blood trickling down the forehead from where the stunning attempt had made contact. IPP then had to instruct the establishment employee to make a second stun attempt on the animal. The employee then used the second HHCB device in attempt to stun the animal and again the animal remained conscious, attempting to roll over. After the second attempt IPP observed the animal blinking and tracking movement with [his or her] eyes. IPP then had to instruct the employee to make a third attempt to stun the animal.1

This conduct appears to violate Iowa Code § 717.2(1)(c). 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 25 Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. (November 17, 2021) Last accessed December 13, 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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