Cow Repeatedly Shot in the Head; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Bealeton, Va.

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Fauquier’s Finest Custom Meat Processing, Inc., in Bealeton. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Hook to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the worker responsible for ineffectively shooting a cow in the head four times with a rifle. The cow then attempted to stand, and the worker shot her again with a shotgun. A similar violation occurred at the facility in 2018 when a worker repeatedly shot a pig in the head, both before and after the animal’s throat was cut.

“This disturbing report shows that a cow experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Fauquier’s Finest Custom Meat Processing,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the cow who suffered at this facility and urging all compassionate members of the public who are disturbed by this cruelty to go vegan and help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, 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.

For more information, visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Hook follows.

May 4, 2021

The Honorable Scott Hook

Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney

Dear Mr. Hook,

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 Fauquier’s Finest Custom Meat Processing, Inc., and the worker responsible for shooting a cow in the head five times (the fifth of which was inflicted after the cow was attempting to stand up) on April 6 at the company’s slaughterhouse located at 11746 Ag Industrial Dr. in Bealeton. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“IPP [FSIS Inspection Program Personnel] observed as the beef cow was brought to the knock box where an employee attempted to stun [her] using a .22 Magnum rifle. IPP stepped outside while the firearm was being discharged and heard four (4) shots fired from the rifle. IPP stepped back on the kill floor and observed the beef cow to be down in the chute …. At this point, the cow attempted to stand up and regained footing in [her] rear limbs. IPP instructed the employee to stun the cow again, and the employee retrieved a 20-gauge shotgun. IPP again exited the kill floor, and the employee successfully rendered the beef cow unconscious using the shotgun (5th shot overall).”1

This conduct appears to violate Va. Code § 3.2-6570. 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, Fauquier’s Finest Custom Meat Processing, Inc. (April 6, 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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