Criminal Probe of Slaughterhouse Sought After Worker Repeatedly Shoots Cow in Head

For Immediate Release:
September 12, 2018

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Dakota County, Neb. – PETA has obtained a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing a recent violation of law at Tyson Fresh Meats outside of Dakota City. In response, PETA sent a letter today calling on the Dakota County Sheriff to investigate the slaughterhouse and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the worker responsible for shooting a cow in the head three times and causing a bolt to lodge in the conscious animal’s skull as the animal “bellowed” and “thrash[ed]” his or her head.

“These disturbing revelations show that this cow suffered a prolonged, agonizing death at Tyson Fresh Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the cow who suffered at this facility and the members of the public who care about him or her.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—notes that other animals 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.

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PETA’s letter to Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg follows.

September 12, 2018

The Honorable Chris Kleinberg, Sheriff

Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

Dear Sheriff Kleinberg,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Tyson Fresh Meats and the worker(s) responsible for shooting a cow in the head three times, causing the cow to cry out and leaving a bolt lodged in the conscious animal’s skull, on August 4 at its slaughterhouse located at 1131 Dakota Ave. outside of Dakota City. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“[T]he SPHV [Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] observed an Angus beef come into the knock box and go past the primary stunner with the pneumatic stunner and then the second team member attempted to knock it with the handheld captive bolt gun (HHCB). On the first attempt with the HHCB gun, the gun was placed on the animal’s head and discharged (the SPHV heard the gun discharge in a normal sounding manner) but the beef remained conscious and was bright, alert, and responsive with its head in a normal positon and looking around. Leading up to the second stun attempt the beef became agitated attempting to avoid contact with the HHCB gun by swaying its head. … [T]he gun was placed on the animal’s head and discharged (the SPHV heard the gun discharge in a normal sounding manner). The beef bellowed and was thrashing its head back and forth, eyes still tracking its environment, still remaining in a standing position but moving around in the knock box. The animal continued to show an agitated behavior, as the stunning employee removed, with some difficulty, the bolt that had lodged in the animal’s forehead. A third attempt with the HHCB gun resulted in rendering the animal unconscious ….”

This conduct appears to violate Nebraska Revised Statute § 54-903(1). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.

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

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind