Federal Probe of Slaughterhouse Sought After Animals Shot Multiple Times in the Head

For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2019

Contact:
Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Chewelah, Wash. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing at least the fourth recent violation of federal law at Olsen Farms Meats in Chewelah. In response, PETA sent a letter today calling on the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible for shooting at least four animals up to four times each in the head since February 2018. The incidents are as follows:

  • March 19, 2019: The slaughter manager shot a cow twice in the head. The animal bucked and remained standing after the first shot.
  • December 13, 2018: A worker shot an unrestrained cow in the head, causing the severely wounded animal to toss her head wildly and spin around repeatedly. The second shot was also misplaced but rendered her unconscious.
  • November 27, 2018: A worker shot a cow twice in the face, causing blood to pour from her nose, before a third shot rendered her unconscious.
  • February 22, 2018: A manager shot a pig in the head three times as the animal cried out and finally rendered the pig unconscious with a fourth shot approximately two minutes after firing the first one.

“These disturbing reports show that these animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Olsen Farms Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the cows and the pig who suffered at this facility as well as compassionate members of the public.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview. The group notes that other animals feel pain and fear and value their own lives, just as humans do, and that the only way to prevent cows, pigs, chickens, and others from being abused and killed in slaughterhouses is to go vegan.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington Joseph Harrington follows.

April 8, 2019

The Honorable Joseph H. Harrington

United States Attorney

Eastern District of Washington

Dear Mr. Harrington,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Olsen Farms Meats, LLC (doing business as Smokey Ridge Meats) and its workers responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.” Since early 2018, at the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 2450 Heine Rd. near Chewelah, its staff have shot at least four animals in the head up to four times each—leaving them bleeding and calling out—before they were rendered unconscious, as documented in the attached reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the reports, federal officials documented the following:

  • March 19, 2019: “The Slaughter Manager attempted to render a black cow insensible using a .357 magnum rifle with .357 magnum ammunition. … Following the first stun, the cow buckled her hind legs while still standing and put her nose up in the air without vocalizing. The cow then stood square upon all four legs, and brought her nose down allowing the Slaughter Manager to re-aim using the same weapon and ammunition. The second stun attempt rendered the cow immediately insensible. The CSI [consumer safety inspector] inspected the head and verified two stun holes had penetrated the skull.”
  • December 13, 2018: “The second beef cow was stunned by [redacted] using a .357 rifle and using .357 mag 140 grain bullets. The cow was stunned and remained standing. She did not vocalize but tossed her head wildly and spun in repeated circles. [Redacted] re-aimed the rifle and allowed the cow to calm prior to second stunning attempt. The cow was rendered immediately insensible after the second stun. Upon inspection of the placement of the two shots, CSI found them both centered but just a quarter of an inch above eye level. The shots were approximately one inch too low for the correct placement of the X pattern.”
  • November 27, 2018: “The first beef cow was loaded into the head gate. The beef was tossing her head. [Redacted] using a .357 caliber rifle with .357 magnum bullets, applied a stunning attempt. The beef was conscious as she remained standing with blood dripping from her nose. The beef did not vocalize or thrash. [Redacted] applied a second stunning attempt with the .357 rifle. Again, the beef remained conscious as she remained standing with more blood pouring from her nose. There was still no vocalizing or thrashing. [Redacted] applied a third stunning attempt which rendered the animal unconscious. … [T]he first two shots were low. They were both at eye level. One shot was centered and the other was slightly to the left. The third shot was about 2 inches higher and at the correct placement of the x pattern.”
  • February 22, 2018: “The slaughter manager attempted to stun the hog using a .357 caliber pistol with hollow point bullets. The hog remained conscious as the hog was vocalizing loudly and remained standing. Within 10–15 seconds the slaughter manager re-aimed the .357 caliber pistol with the same bullets and attempted a second stunning attempt. Again, the hog remained conscious as it continued to vocalize and was still standing. Within 25–30 seconds, the slaughter manager attempted a third stunning attempt with the same firearm and bullets. The hog again remained conscious vocalizing even loader while still standing. The slaughter manager then turned to his assistant and was handed a .327 caliber pistol. The slaughter manager attempted a fo[u]rth stunning attempt which rendered the animal unconscious. The time between the first and fo[u]rth stunning attempt was approximately 2 minutes.”

The Federal Meat Inspection Act classifies such offenses as misdemeanors and provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that 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. Given that the FSIS “fully supports the investigation of all those involved in alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act” and that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work” with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA)’s Enforcement and Litigation Division (ELD) to investigate and bring appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the above violations.

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

Investigations Specialist

cc:        Scott C. Safian, Director, ELD, OIEA, FSIS

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