Cows Scalded, Kicked in the Face at Local Slaughterhouse; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 24, 2023

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

Monticello, Fla.

In response to a newly released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture documenting that workers at Johnston’s Locker Plant in Monticello soaked cows with scalding-hot water, kicked a cow in the face, and jabbed another with a pipe, PETA fired off a letter today to State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit Jack Campbell calling on him to investigate and file applicable criminal charges against those responsible.

According to the report, on August 2, an employee sprayed five cows with 145-degree water—which can cause serious burns in three seconds—from less than three feet away, leaving all five “drenched.” That employee then prodded one cow with a metal pipe while another employee “forcefully kicked one of the cows twice in the middle of [her] face.”

“These cows were deliberately scalded, jabbed, and kicked by workers who made the last moments of their lives even more terrifying and agonizing,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling for an investigation on these animals’ behalf and urges everyone to help end this suffering by going vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—points out that cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do. 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.

For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Campbell follows.

August 24, 2023

The Honorable Jack Campbell

State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit

Dear Mr. Campbell:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’d like to request that your office (and the proper local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Johnston’s Locker Plant Inc. and the workers responsible for spraying several cows with scalding-hot water, kicking one of them in the face, and jabbing another with a pipe on August 2 at its slaughterhouse located at 1480 W. Washington St. in Monticello. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

There were six cows at the facility (1 cow in pen #3, 3 cows in pen #2, and 2 cows in the alleyway). The employees were trying to move cattle from the alleyway to the knock box. One employee sprayed five of the cows with 145-degree Fahrenheit water while standing approximately 1 to 3 feet from the cows. All five cows were drenched with the water. [FSIS Inspection Program Personnel] notified the plant employee to stop; however, the employee proceeded to pick up a metal pipe and poked one of the cows in the alleyway in its side with the metal pipe. A second plant employee climbed into the alleyway and forcefully kicked one of the cows twice in the middle of its face.[1]

This conduct appears to violate F.S.A. § 828.12. Importantly, FSIS’ action carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.[2] Given that the FSIS has not 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.

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

Investigations Project Manager

[1]FSIS District 85 Manager Dr. Phyllis Adams, Notice of Suspension, Johnston’s Locker Plant, Inc. (August 3, 2023) Last accessed August 18, 2023.

[2]See 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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