Cow Repeatedly Shot in the Head; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
December 2, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Cambria County, Pa. – PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing another recent violation of law at Pudliner Packing outside Johnstown. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Investigation Section Commander Lt. Lisa A. Jobe to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the personnel who on November 16 ineffectively shot a cow in the head twice. The animal remained standing until a third shot finally rendered her unconscious.

This is the fourth time since June 2019 that a cow remained conscious after shots to the head at Pudliner Packing, including in one incident in January and another in August, which PETA is also asking Jobe to review. Also, in 2018, three shots were needed to stun a pig who cried out while blood ran down his or her snout.

“Animals victimized by the meat industry suffer terribly every single day, as this slaughterhouse’s repeated, gruesome violations show,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Anyone disturbed by these incidents can help stop this cruelty by simply keeping animal flesh off their plates.”

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 best way to help prevent them from suffering in slaughterhouses is not to eat them.

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PETA’s letter to Jobe follows.

December 2, 2020

Lieutenant Lisa A. Jobe

Troop A Criminal Investigation Section Commander

Pennsylvania State Police

Dear Lt. Jobe:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Pudliner Packing and the worker(s) responsible for shooting cows in the head up to four times—and cutting the throat of one while she was conscious and crying out—at its slaughterhouse located at 167 Norton Rd., outside of Johnstown. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

  • November 16, 2020: “Establishment personnel were stunning a dairy cow in the stunning area with a .410 shotgun. After the first shot, the Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) observed the animal conscious, as it was still standing. After the second stunning attempt with the .410 shotgun, the CSI observed the animal still standing, alert and looking around. Establishment personnel then effectively stunned the animal with a 20-gauge shotgun. Upon examination, there were three distinct holes in the head.”1
  • August 11, 2020: “Establishment personnel were stunning a beef cow … with a .22 magnum rifle. After two shots, the Food Inspector (FI) observed the animal in a state of consciousness as it was still standing. After the next shot attempt, the [CSI] observed the animal in sternal recumbency, alert and looking around. The plant then effectively stunned the animal with the fourth shot. After the bovine was skinned out, only one large hole was observed in the cranium.”2
  • January 27, 2020: “Establishment personnel stunned a Holstein dairy cow in the stunning area with a firearm, then proceeded to winch it into the area to be shackled and hoisted. While the bovine was hanging on the rail, the CSI was able to determine that the animal was not insensible as it was vocalizing loudly and looking around. The establishment employee ignored the vocalization and continued to hang the bovine, then made the bleeding cut on a conscious animal. Shortly after the bleeding cut, the animal lost sensibility. After the bovine was skinned out, three holes were observed in the cranium.”3
  • June 26, 2019: “The [federal inspector] … was listening to the firearm stunning of a cow …. He heard the first gunshot but did not hear the animal fall. He heard a second gunshot and then heard the cow bellowing from the alley. He heard a third stunning attempt with the hand held captive bolt and heard the cow fall. The employees brought the animal into the slaughter floor and removed the head. Three holes were observed in the skull.”4

This conduct appears to violate 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5533(a). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.5

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 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Nov. 16, 2020)

2FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Notice of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Aug. 11, 2020)

3FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jan. 27, 2020)

4FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jun. 26, 2019)

5See 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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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind