Cow Repeatedly Shot in the Head; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Marfa, Texas

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Marfa Meats slaughterhouse. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on District Attorney Ori T. White to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the staff responsible for shooting a steer in the head three times on June 7, causing the wounded animal to bleed, buck, and try to flee, before a fourth shot finally rendered him unconscious.

“This disturbing report shows that this animal experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Marfa Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the steer 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, sheep, pigs, 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.

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

PETA’s letter to White follows.

June 30, 2021

The Honorable Ori T. White

83rd District Attorney for the State of Texas

Dear Mr. White,

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 Marfa Meats, LLC, and the worker(s) responsible for repeatedly shooting a steer in the head, causing the wounded animal to bleed, buck, and try to flee, on June 7 at its slaughterhouse located at 18268 U.S. Hwy. 90 outside Marfa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“[A federal inspector] observed [an] employee … at Marfa Meats shoot a red [A]ngus steer with a .223 rifle. The first shot was ineffective, the bullet penetrated the skin and caused the animal to begin to bleed. The steer jumped on his 2 hind legs and began to balk. The second shot was then taken, and the steer again jumped on his hind legs, turned around and ran backwards to another pen. A third shot was taken by [an employee] where the animal remained cautious and ran forward and back to the original pen. Marfa Meats [staff] then used a .38 hand pistol for a fourth attempt at rendering the steer unconscious and succeeded. After the 4th attempt the animal showed all signs of unconsciousness. A fifth and final shot was taken … as a security knock.”1

This conduct may violate Texas Penal Code § 42.09. 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

[1]FSIS District 40 Manager Jennifer Beasley-McKean, D.V.M., Notice of Suspension, Marfa Meats, LLC (June 8, 2021)

[2]See Nat’l. Meat Ass’n. 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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