Criminal Probe Sought: Animals Repeatedly Shot in the Head

For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Haubstadt, Ind. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing recent violations of law at Dewig Bros. Packing Co. in Haubstadt. In response, we sent a letter today calling on the Gibson County prosecutor to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible for repeatedly shooting two cows in the head. On January 7, a steer remained standing and moving his head after a worker shot him twice in the head, before a third shot finally rendered him unconscious. On October 22, 2019, a shackled heifer regained consciousness after being shot once and cried out after she was hoisted into the air—an employee shot her two more times.

“These disturbing reports show that these animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Dewig Bros. Packing Co.,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the cattle who suffered at this facility and urging all compassionate members of the public who are disturbed by this cruelty to go vegan and help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do, and that the only way to help prevent them from suffering in slaughterhouses is not to eat them.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Gibson County Prosecutor Michael Cochren follows.

January 30, 2020

The Honorable Michael Cochren

Gibson County Prosecutor

Dear Mr. Cochren,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Dewig Brothers Packing Co. and the worker(s) responsible for repeatedly shooting cattle in the head—one of whom cried out and another who was left with holes in his skull—on January 7, 2020, and October 22, 2019, at its slaughterhouse located at 100 Maple St. in Haubstadt. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

January 7, 2020: “[T]he Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) observed an establishment employee attempt to stun a steer in the knock box with a captive bolt gun. After the first stunning attempt, the animal remained standing and moved his head. The device was reloaded and deployed a second time with the same result; the animal remained standing and moved his head. The captive bolt gun was again reloaded and deployed for a third stunning attempt. The animal immediately dropped after this third shot and was rendered insensible. A security stun was then placed with the captive bolt gun. The head was examined and four distinct holes in the skull were noted.”[1]

October 22, 2019: “[T]he FSIS Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) observed [that] a shackled and hoisted beef heifer had regained consciousness and vocalized as an establishment employee approached [her] to perform the stick to initiate exsanguination. The employee recognized the animal had regained consciousness … and stunned the animal. The animal no longer vocalized. The head was observed to move from side to side on an axis horizontal to the spine. The CSI requested the employee place an additional stun; after doing so, the movement stopped.”[2]

This conduct appears to violate Ind. Code § 35-46-3-12. Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.[3]

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely,

Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

[1]FSIS District 50 Manager Paul Wolseley, Notice of Suspension, Dewig Bros. Packing Co., Est. M17419 (Jan. 7, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/86a063b6-beeb-496e-b92c-26653fdc7868/M17419-Suspension-01072020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

2FSIS District 50 Manager Paul Wolseley, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Dewig Brothers Packing Co., Est. M17419 (Oct. 22, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/42e2019a-229b-486d-bc6a-894db377a3d0/M17419-Intended-Enforcement-102219.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3See 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.”).

[1]FSIS District 50 Manager Paul Wolseley, Notice of Suspension, Dewig Bros. Packing Co., Est. M17419 (Jan. 7, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/86a063b6-beeb-496e-b92c-26653fdc7868/M17419-Suspension-01072020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[2]FSIS District 50 Manager Paul Wolseley, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Dewig Brothers Packing Co., Est. M17419 (Oct. 22, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/42e2019a-229b-486d-bc6a-894db377a3d0/M17419-Intended-Enforcement-102219.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[3]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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“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

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