Criminal Probe Sought: Animals Shot Up to Six Times in the Head

For Immediate Release:
February 12, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Canby, Ore. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing a string of violations of law at Marks Meat, Inc.—the plant used by Revel Meat Co., which purports to deal in “humane meat”—in Canby. In response, we sent a letter this morning calling on the Clackamas County district attorney to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers who shot a cow, a lamb, and pigs up to six times, even over the course of several minutes, before the animals were rendered unconscious.

Most recently, on January 29, a worker shot a pig—who was squealing in pain—in the head three times before she was rendered unconscious. Federal records from 2018 and 2019 reveal four other incidents, including one in which a lamb stood and walked around after being shot in the head and another in which a pig cried out while being shot five times before finally being stunned by a sixth shot.

“These disturbing reports show that these animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Marks Meat,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the animals who have 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 pigs, lambs, cows, 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 Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote follows.

February 12, 2020

The Honorable John Foote

Clackamas County District Attorney

Dear Mr. Foote,

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 Marks Meat, Inc., and the worker(s) responsible for shooting pigs, a lamb, and a cow in the head—as many as six times and even over the course of several minutes—on at least five occasions since March 2018 at its slaughterhouse located at 10290 S. Mulino Rd. outside of Canby. 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 29, 2020: “The first pig of the day was loaded into the stun box and the … employee applied the first stun attempt using the hand-held captive bolt (HHCB) device. The pig remained … standing, looking around with eyes tracking and vocalizing (repeated, ongoing loud squealing). The establishment employee immediately applied a second stun attempt using a back-up loaded HHCB device …. Following the second stun attempt, the pig … remained conscious … and continued to squeal. … At this time the establishment employee applied a third stun attempt using a larger HHCB device, which … rendered the pig … unconscious.”[1]
  • February 1, 2019: “[T]he CSI [Consumer Safety Inspector] observed the plant owner … and plant employee … attempt to stun a … cow with a .22 caliber pistol. The cow remained conscious as the cow was still standing and displaying eye movement and reflex. [An employee] … attempted a second stunning attempt with the same firearm, which again failed to render the cow unconscious. The cow was still standing, and the eyes were tracking to the environment. [An employee] … attempted a third stunning attempt, again, with the same firearm. The cow fell … but was still conscious, as the head was observed to be raised, and the eyes were still tracking to the environment. [An employee] attempted a 4th stunning attempt but the gun was out of ammo. … [T]he plant owner … immediately grabbed the new hand-held captive bolt device and attempted another stunning attempt which rendered the animal unconscious.”[2]
  • October 30, 2018: “[A] plant employee trained in the stunning procedure attempted to stun a set of 4 lambs …. The CSI observed the knock box door open and all 4 lambs rolled into the landing area …. Prior to being shackled, one of the lambs stood up and took a few steps …. The CSI observed blood dripping from the lamb and observed it walking unsteady. When the lamb reached the wall, it stopped walking and stood, unsteadily, with its head low and its body starting to lean. The stunner reentered the kill floor unaware of the conscious [lamb] as all four lambs were down when he opened the knock box door. Upon observing the conscious lamb, he … administered a second stun which rendered the animal unconscious.”[3]
  • September 26, 2018: “[T]he FSIS Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian (SP HV) heard the establishment discharge the hand-held captive bolt gun while stunning a market hog in the restrainer. The animal immediately vocalized, and the SPHV left the office and observed the animal sitting … gazing around, blinking, and vocalizing. The establishment employee took the backup firearm (a .22 magnum revolver) and shot the animal a second time after approximately one minute. The animal continued to vocalize and became fractious. The employee then reloaded the captive bolt gun and discharged the captive bolt on the animal (approximately 45 seconds). The animal continued to vocalize and remained conscious. The employee again discharged the firearm (approximately 45 seconds from [the] previous blow) with the same result. The employee once again fired the revolver (3rd shot of firearm, 5th shot overall) and the animal remained conscious, vocalizing and moving about the restrainer. On the 4th and final discharge of the firearm (6th total blow) the animal fell to the ground unconscious.”[4]
  • March 7, 2018: “[A] boar hog was moved into the restrainer box and a Marks Meat’s employee readied a .38 caliber revolver for stunning. … When the animal was in a safe position, the employee fired the revolver at ‘point blank range.’ … Immediately after the shot, the boar did not drop, and the [boar] remained standing. The employee stated the animal was still alive. … The employee questioned the ammunition, unloaded the revolver, and reloaded with new rounds. The SPHV asked to not delay the process. Within 2 minutes, the revolver was reloaded and a second shot fired. The boar remained standing, and was moving its head. The employee … reloaded the revolver and administered a third shot. The boar went to the ground, and subsequent unconsciousness was confirmed by the CSI.”[5]

The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that years of 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.

This conduct appears to violate Or. Rev. Stat. § 167.320(1)(b). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.[6]

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 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Notice of Suspension, Mark’s Meat, Inc. (Jan. 29, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d1309058-284a-4cb6-b933-7f3b85ebf55b/M9265-NOS-1292020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

2FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dawn Sprouls, Reinstatement of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc. (Feb. 1, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ac9a0e2e-093a-403b-a129-d51b91b90d99/m9265-marks-ros-020119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Michael Watts, Reinstatement of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc.  (Oct. 30, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/36b8f66d-129f-4183-ad65-7be4f8569e4f/m9265-marks-ros-103018.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

4FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dr. Yudhbir Sharma, Reinstatement of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc. (Sept. 26, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/185eb9aa-e48f-4779-b6f0-b0b6b371d220/M9265-Marks-ROS-092618.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

5FSIS District 15 Manager Anna Gallegos, Notice of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc. (Mar. 7, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/059e4657-3324-4212-a3d5-2ca32584f213/M9265-Suspension-030718.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

6See 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 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Notice of Suspension, Mark’s Meat, Inc. (Jan. 29, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d1309058-284a-4cb6-b933-7f3b85ebf55b/M9265-NOS-1292020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[2]FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dawn Sprouls, Reinstatement of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc. (Feb. 1, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ac9a0e2e-093a-403b-a129-d51b91b90d99/m9265-marks-ros-020119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[3]FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Michael Watts, Reinstatement of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc.  (Oct. 30, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/36b8f66d-129f-4183-ad65-7be4f8569e4f/m9265-marks-ros-103018.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[4]FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dr. Yudhbir Sharma, Reinstatement of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc. (Sept. 26, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/185eb9aa-e48f-4779-b6f0-b0b6b371d220/M9265-Marks-ROS-092618.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[5]FSIS District 15 Manager Anna Gallegos, Notice of Suspension, Marks Meat, Inc. (Mar. 7, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/059e4657-3324-4212-a3d5-2ca32584f213/M9265-Suspension-030718.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[6]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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