For Immediate Release:
October 31, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Aberdeen, S.D. – Following a just-released U.S. Department of Agriculture report documenting that four cows died of apparent suffocation after the ventilation system malfunctioned in a barn at New Angus LLC near Aberdeen, PETA sent a letter to Brown County State’s Attorney Karly Winter calling on her to investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against those responsible.
According to the report, on April 3 an inspector found three dead cows in a barn on the property, which was “excessively foggy, humid, and hot with elevated ammonia.” Shortly thereafter, a second inspector found another dead cow and reported that “cattle throughout the barn were open mouth breathing, indicating respiratory distress.” A New Angus director said that the fans and ventilation system had malfunctioned several hours earlier, leading to the spike in temperature, humidity, and ammonia levels and the lack of fresh air in the barn, which confined 750 cows. The second inspector concluded that the malfunction was the cause of the cows’ deaths.
“These cows were kept in such severely crowded, disgusting conditions that just a few stifling hours there was evidently enough to kill them,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the victims and urges everyone to go vegan to prevent such cruelty.”
The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse since at least 2007.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview, and offers a free vegan starter kit on its website. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Winter follows.
October 31, 2023
The Honorable Karly Winter
Brown County State’s Attorney
Dear Ms. Winter:
I’m writing to request that your office (and a law-enforcement agency, as necessary) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the individual(s) responsible for the deaths of four cows by apparent suffocation at New Angus LLC, located at 13 135th St. S.W. near Aberdeen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in a report that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table.)
According to the report, on April 3 an inspector discovered three dead cows in a barn on the property, which was “excessively foggy, humid, and hot with elevated ammonia.” Shortly thereafter, a second inspector found “an additional dead steer” and noted that “cattle throughout the barn were open mouth breathing, indicating respiratory distress.” A New Angus director apparently told the second inspector that the barn’s fans and ventilation system had malfunctioned several hours earlier—while 750 cows were inside—leading to the spike in temperature, humidity, and ammonia levels and the lack of fresh air. On further investigation, the second inspector concluded, “[M]y observations of respiratory distress indicate that the increase in dead animals was caused by the failure of the … air management system.”
These conditions do not represent an otherwise-exempt usual and customary practice of the livestock industry or the slaughter of animals for food. This incident thus appears to violate SDCL § 40-1-2.3, which bars anyone responsible for the care of animals from failing to provide them with “adequate facilities, or care generally considered to be standard and accepted for an animal’s health and well-being.” Please note that the FSIS’ report carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of cruelty to animals. Given that the FSIS hasn’t initiated a criminal prosecution of a licensed slaughterhouse for inhumane handling since at least 2007, charges under state law are these victims’ only chance at a measure of justice.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis