Criminal Probe Sought: Pig Repeatedly Shocked, Shot in Head

For Immediate Release:
May 12, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Tucson, Ariz.

PETA is calling for a criminal investigation of the University of Arizona Food Products & Safety Laboratory in Tucson, where a U.S. Department of Agriculture report from April 11 reveals that a pig was electrocuted, shot at least once in the head, and shocked again—after which he or she still remained conscious and cried out. Finally, after a final shock and shot to the head, the animal was rendered unconscious. In a letter sent today, PETA asks Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible for the pig’s prolonged death.

“This disturbing report shows that this pig experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at the University of Arizona Food Products & Safety Laboratory,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the pig 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 LaWall follows.

May 12, 2020

The Honorable Barbara LaWall

Pima County Attorney

Dear Ms. LaWall,

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 the University of Arizona Food Products & Safety Laboratory and the personnel responsible for shooting a pig in the head at least twice and repeatedly electroshocking the conscious, crying animal on April 10 at its slaughterhouse located at 4181 N. Campbell Ave. in Tucson. 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 FSIS Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) observed a large hog being driven into the establishment’s cattle restrainer box. The stunner employee applied the electric stunning wand behind the hog’s ears, and the animal went rigid and collapsed with all four legs under the body. The CSI then heard a second employee fire a captive bolt gun into the box towards the head area, then reload and discharge the gun a second time.

The stunner employee opened the cattle restrainer box door. The hog was lying down but perched up on one front leg, with [the] head upright and alert. The hog squealed, and its eyes were tracking. The stunner employee climbed down the stairs of the cattle restrainer area and applied the electric stunning wand a second time behind the ears. The hog’s muscles went rigid and the employee removed the electric stunning wand after approximately four to seven seconds.

The hog rolled out of the cattle restrainer and landed on its side in the blood pit area. The hog began squealing again and its eyes were still alert and tracking movement. The employee applied the electric stunning wand a third time, this time to the hog’s thorax (cardiac stun). After he removed the wand, the captive bolt gun employee again fired the device into the animal’s forehead. This captive bolt blow finally rendered the hog unconscious.”[1]

This conduct appears to violate A.R.S. § 13-2910(A). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.[2]

Please let us know what we might do to assist you.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

[1]FSIS District 05 Manager Yudhbir Sharma, DVM, Notice of Suspension, University of Arizona Food Products & Safety Laboratory (Apr. 11, 2020)

[2]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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