Cows Shot in Head and Left to Suffer, Another Trampled; PETA Seeks Federal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Jackson County, Mo.

PETA has obtained recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports revealing violations of federal law at ZMDR LLC outside Lone Jack. The facility was cited on August 11 after an inspector found a conscious cow who had been shot in the head lying on her side, crying out, and trying to stand in an area intended for dead animals. It took nearly 20 minutes for a worker to end her suffering by shooting her again. ZMDR was also cited on May 11 after a cow fell in the mud and was repeatedly trampled by other animals being forced by workers toward the slaughter floor. In response, PETA sent a letter this morning to interim U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Teresa Moore, calling on her to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible.

Federal officials have also documented numerous other violations at ZMDR dating back to mid-2021, including that animals were conscious after having been shot in the head, a downed cow was left without water for over six and a half hours, and animals were exposed to hazardous, potentially dangerous conditions.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that animals endured prolonged, agonizing deaths at ZMDR,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of these cows and is urging everyone to help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses 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, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do. The group is asking Moore to intervene, because the USDA hasn’t initiated the criminal prosecution of any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse like those committed at ZMDR since at least 2007.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Moore follows.

August 31, 2022

The Honorable Teresa A. Moore
U.S. Attorney
Western District of Missouri

Dear Ms. Moore:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against ZMDR LLC and its workers responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires among other things that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.”1 At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 1921 W. Hwy. 50 outside Lone Jack, its staff have repeatedly shot animals in the head in botched stunning attempts and confined animals in hazardous conditions, as documented in the attached reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the reports, federal officials documented the following:

  • August 10, 2022: “At approximately 6:32 p.m. on August 10, 2022, FSIS Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) observed … an animal lying on [his or her] side and kicking [his or her] front legs in the area designated for dead animals. Upon further examination, IPP observed a knock hole on the front of [the animal’s] head near the top of the forehead, animal vocalizing, and rhythmic motions of the chest indicative of breathing. The animal was repeatedly trying to right [himself or herself] by attempting to lift [his or her] head and kicking [his or her] feet. IPP attempted to locate establishment management to stun the animal again, however, management personnel were no longer on the premises. Establishment management was contacted via phone by other establishment personnel. Then, IPP returned to the animal [who] continued to vocalize and attempted to right [himself or herself] by lifting [his or her] head and kicking [his or her] feet. IPP again requested the establishment to stun the animal again. At approximately 6:50 p.m., a maintenance technician applied a poll knock which was immediately followed by pithing and sticking rendering the animal unconscious/dead.”2
  • May 11, 2022: “IPP observed a slip and fall due to muddy conditions in the alleyway leading to the knock box. Due to the muddy conditions, the cow was unable to rise. … After the cow was unable to rise completely and fell again, the establishment humanely euthanized the animal. After the alleyway

was corrected to provide better footing (at approximately 06:40 AM), the gate was opened allowing cattle to be driven toward the knock box and IPP observed another cow laying on [her] side in wet mud. IPP immediately informed establishment management of the down animal but establishment employees had begun driving animals resulting in the down cow being trampled multiple times by excited cattle. As the establishment was retrieving a captive bolt gun since one was not readily available, cattle continued to step on the down cow [who] was conscious and showed signs of distress: eyes rolled back in her head, rapidly breathing, and kicking her legs as she was stepped on by other cattle. The down cow was unable to lift her head and neck out of the mud. When the captive bolt arrived, the animal’s head was picked up to humanely euthanize. … Additionally, the NR SDY2007053111 N/1 documents three conversations on April 8, April 15, and May 2 between IPP and establishment management discussing that amount of mud may lead to humane handling failures.”3

  • January 7, 2022: “The floor grates in the corner were askew, with 2 sections down in the hole and the pointed edges sticking straight up in the air. The cattle moved forward and the first one to pass the hole slid her hoof and lower portion of leg down into the hole, just missing the edges of the metal grates.”4
  • December 7, 2021: “4 cattle were walking forward and backward waiting to be driven forward into the restrainer. The second cow in line was standing down in what appeared to be a hole in the floor. The 2 cattle were driven forward out of the hole and [the inspector] observed that the floor grates of the alley way were missing in the corner of the drive alley. The cow had been standing with a leg down in the draining trough of the floor.”5
  • October 20, 2021: “There was a black cow down on the trailer and an establishment lead was performing euthanasia with hand-held captive bolt device …. The first knock was applied to the forehead of the animal but it was not effective in rendering the animal unconscious and the animal swung [his or head] head to the left. The cow remained in sternal position and was still fully alert and conscious and tracking the movement of the knock operator. … The second knock was effective and rendered the animal immediately unconscious.”6
  • July 19, 2021: “[An employee] was ready to euthanize a nonambulatory disabled cow identified on Antemortem inspection. The employee attempted the first stun utilizing a handheld captive bolt gun. The cow remained alert in sternal position. [The inspector] observed a normal blink response with normal tracking of movement. The cow tried to move her head away from the employee as he approached to attempt the second stun. The second shot was immediate and effective.”7
  • May 28, 2021: “[The inspector] observed a non-ambulatory disabled (NAD) beef cow being held in the approximately 12 feet by 6 feet tapered, uncovered unloading area leading into the covered alleyway. The cow had no access to water within this makeshift holding area. Establishment cattlemen informed me that they did not know when the cow had been

unloaded and were not informed of the NAD cow at any time prior to their arrival at approximately 0500 hours, however, the owner of the NAD cow was documented on their pen board. At approximately 0620 hours, unloading records … were reviewed, and it was discovered … the NAD cow had been held in an uncovered area without access to water for approximately 6 hours and 35 minutes. … At approximately 0706 hours, the cow was euthanized.”8

  • May 26, 2021: “An establishment employee attempted to knock a nonambulatory disabled mature bull in the back compartment of a trailer with a handheld captive bolt device. The first attempt failed to render the animal unconscious; [the inspector] continued to observe voluntary movement, blinking, and rhythmic breathing. A second attempt was made immediately with the handheld captive bolt device to the forehead and the bull was rendered immediately unconscious.”9
  • May 14, 2021: “[A]n establishment employee … stated a steer’s leg was stuck between the floor and bottom beam lining the alleyway leading to the knock box … [The inspector] observed establishment employees free the affected hindlimb, but they were unable to return the steer to an ambulatory state without assistance. At 0615, the establishment knocked the affected steer, achieving immediate insensibility with a single knock. The steer was ante-mortem condemned as non-ambulatory disabled. … This is being associated with NR SDY3913031722N/1, dated March 22, 2021, for similar cause of failure to maintain facilities in a manner to prevent entrapment and/or injury.”10

The Federal Meat Inspection Act classifies such offenses as misdemeanors and provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.11 The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that FSIS enforcement actions alone are insufficient to deter future violations and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public. Given that the FSIS has not initiated a criminal prosecution of a licensed slaughterhouse for inhumane handling since at least 2007 but claims that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work”12 with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you encourage the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA)’s Enforcement and Litigation Division (ELD) to refer this matter to your office so that it can bring appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the above violations.

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

1U.S. Congress, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, 7 U.S.C. § 1902(a), (1958) Last accessed August 26, 2022.
2FSIS District 35 Manager Jeffery Barham, Notice of Suspension, ZMDR, LLC (August 11, 2022)
3FSIS District 35 Manager Jeffery Barham, Notice of Suspension, ZMDR, LLC (May 11, 2022)
4FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (January 7, 2022)
5FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (December 7, 2021)
6FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (October 20, 2021)
7FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (July 19, 2021)
8FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (May 28, 2021)
9FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (May 26, 2021)
10FSIS, Noncompliance Record, ZMDR, LLC (May 14, 2021)
11U.S. Congress, United States Code: Meat Inspection, 21 U.S.C. §§ 676(a), (1982) Last accessed August 26, 2022.
12U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (January 7, 2011) Last accessed August 26, 2022.

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