Criminal Probe of Slaughterhouse Sought After Cows Shot Multiple Times, One Stabbed While Still Conscious

For Immediate Release:
February 14, 2019

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Providence, R.I.

PETA has obtained two U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing recent violations of law at Rhode Island Beef & Veal, Inc., in Johnston. On December 24, a worker attempted to stun a cow, hoisted her, and cut her throat after she cried out—and then shot her again. On January 8, a worker ineffectively shot a conscious cow in the head, after which the injured animal tried to escape and was then shot a second time. The facility was also warned about another ineffective stunning attempt on January 2. In response, PETA sent a letter today calling on the U.S. attorney for the District of Rhode Island to investigate the slaughterhouse for its persistent violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file federal criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible for causing animals to suffer.

“These disturbing revelations show that these cows experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Rhode Island Beef & Veal,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of those who suffered at this facility and the members of the public who care about animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—notes that other species have a central nervous system and sense of self-preservation, just as humans do, and that the only way to prevent cows, pigs, chickens, and others from suffering in slaughterhouses is to go vegan.

For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron L. Weisman follows.

February 14, 2019

The Honorable Aaron L. Weisman

United States Attorney

District of Rhode Island

Dear Mr. Weisman,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Rhode Island Beef & Veal Inc. and the worker(s) responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires 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.” At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 60 Armento St. in Johnston, its staff shot cattle in the head multiple times, including one whose throat was cut while the animal was conscious, on at least two recent days. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

December 24, 2018: “Following the 1st stun attempt, the beef that was shackled and hung for exsanguination vocalized once, the employee attempted to stick the animal and penetrated the skin, at which time the animal vocalized a second time. Upon examination there was eye movement in the beef’s right eye. Further examination showed there was no relaxation in the tail or tongue. The movements indicated that the first stun was NOT effective. At this time, [an employee] retrieved the second captive bolt stunner from the office. [An employee] then applied the second stun. The second stun effectiveness rendered the animal unconscious.”

January 8, 2019: “The employee performing the stunning positioned the captive bolt stunner on the head of a beef cow and fired it. The attempted stun was located at the right lateral aspect of the forehead. The beef cow remained on its feet and attempted to jump out of the knock box by turning around, rearing on its hind legs and placing its forelimbs on the top of the box. The employee immediately utilized the loaded back-up captive bolt gun and applied a second, successful stun which rendered the animal unconscious and it remained in such a state throughout the shackling and sticking process. … Additionally, the plant was [warned about] the ineffective stunning of a bovine with the captive bolt on January 02, 2019.”

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. 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 “fully supports the investigation of all those involved in alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act” and that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work” with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s (OIEA) Enforcement and Litigation Division (ELD) to investigate and 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

Investigations Specialist

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.