Criminal Probe Sought: Crying Pig’s Throat Slit; Another Shot in Head Six Times

For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Talladega County, Ala.

PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing recent violations of law at Marble City Meats outside Sylacauga. In response, we sent a letter this morning calling on the Talladega County district attorney to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and its owner. The reports show that on June 19, the owner electroshocked a pig twice, but the animal subsequently regained consciousness. Rather than stunning the animal again, the man cut the pig’s throat while he or she cried out in pain and left the animal to bleed to death. In September 2019, a federal inspector witnessed the owner shoot a pig in the head four times with two captive-bolt guns and then two more times with a rifle before the animal was finally rendered unconscious.

“These disturbing reports show that these pigs experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Marble City Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the animals 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 pigs, sheep, bulls, 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.

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PETA’s letter to Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens follows.

July 9, 2020

The Honorable Steve Giddens

Talladega County District Attorney

Dear Mr. Giddens,

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 Marble City Meats and its owner, who is responsible for cutting the throat of a conscious, crying pig and shooting another pig in the head six times before the animal was finally rendered unconscious on two recent occasions at the slaughterhouse located at 514 Odena Rd. N., Sylacauga, Alabama. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

June 19, 2020: “[FSIS inspection personnel] observed Establishment Owner Mr. Matthew Lawrence performing slaughter operations on a market hog. FSIS inspection personnel observed the hog regaining consciousness and vocalizing during the sticking step. The establishment initially stunned the hog with a head electrical stun then a heart electrical stun, which rendered the animal insensible. The animal subsequently regained consciousness. The establishment then did not re-stun but rather stuck the conscious animal until it bled out.”1

September 9, 2019: “[FSIS personnel] observed … Matthew Lawrence performing stunning procedures on a Kune-Kune pig over the age of two. The establishment uses a hand-held captive bolt (HHCB) as their primary and secondary stunning method. The first stun attempt was ineffective. The establishment owner immediately retrieved the backup HHCB and immediately conducted a second stun. The second stun attempt was also ineffective to render the animal insensible. The owner reloaded the primary HHCB and issued a third stun which was also ineffective. The owner reloaded the backup HHCB and delivered a fourth stun which again failed to render the animal insensible. The owner then retrieved a .22 caliber rifle and attempted a fifth attempt with the rifle and was ineffective to render the animal insensible to pain. Finally, on the second attempt with the rifle (6th overall attempt), the animal was rendered unconscious and insensible to pain.”2

This conduct appears to violate Ala. Code 1975 § 13A-11-14. 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.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry Davis, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Marble City Meats (June 19, 2020)

2FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry Davis, Notice of Suspension, Marble City Meats (September 9, 2019)

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.”).

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