Criminal Probe Sought: Pigs Repeatedly Kicked in the Face

For Immediate Release:
April 2, 2020

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Bowling Green, Mo.

We have obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a violation of law at Woods Smoked Meats in Bowling Green on Tuesday, March 17. In response, we sent a letter today calling on the Pike County prosecuting attorney to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the worker who was seen inside a pen kicking and stomping on pigs. After a federal inspector asked the individual to stop, the worker stepped onto the back of one pig in order to climb over the gate and then continued kicking the animals in their faces while they squealed.

“Any decent person would be appalled by the thought of someone kicking sensitive pigs in the face,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of these animals and urging everyone 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 Pike County Prosecuting Attorney Alex Ellison follows.

April 2, 2020

The Honorable Alex Ellison

Pike County Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Mr. Ellison,

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 Woods Smoked Meats worker who repeatedly kicked pigs in the face and stomped and stood on them as they cried out on March 17 at its slaughterhouse located at 1501 Business Hwy. 54 W. in Bowling Green. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“FSIS Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) observed an establishment employee inside a pen of approximately six hogs. The employee was stamping the hogs as they were moving forward toward the gate and started to kick the hogs to get them to move faster. When IPP asked the employee to stop kicking the hogs and use the paddle to move them forward, the employee stepped on the back of a hog to climb over the gate and continued to kick the hogs in the face. The hogs were making loud squealing noises.”1

This conduct appears to violate V.A.M.S. § 578.012. 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. I can be reached at [email protected] or 757-962-8326. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 35 Manager Robert Q. Bane, Notice of Suspension, Woods Smoked Meats, Inc. (Mar. 17, 2020)

2See 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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