Federal Probe Sought: Animals Repeatedly Shot in Head in Botched Slaughters

For Immediate Release:
August 26, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Milton, W. Va. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing recent violations of federal law at Nelson’s Meat Processing near Milton. In response, PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia 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. The violations include shooting a lamb in the head so incompetently that the animal remained standing and shook his or her head before being shot again and shooting a pig near the left eye, causing the animal to cry out and flail, before a rifle was retrieved to shoot the anguished animal again.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that these animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Nelson’s Meat Processing,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the lamb and 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 sheep, pigs, bulls, cows, chickens, and other animals have a central nervous system and a sense of self-preservation, just as humans do, and that the best 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 U.S. Attorney Michael B. Stuart follows.

August 26, 2019

The Honorable Michael B. Stuart

United States Attorney

Southern District of West Virginia

Dear Mr. Stuart,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Nelson’s Meat Processing, LLC, 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.”[1] At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 2571 Yates Crossing Rd. in Cabell County, its staff recently shot a pig and lamb in the head multiple times in botched slaughter attempts, 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:

  • August 8, 2019: “[A]n employee attempted to stun a lamb using a .22 Magnum rifle. The lamb was freely moving around in the knock box. The first stun attempt was unsuccessful as the lamb remained standing and shook its head. The employee immediately retrieved the backup and successfully rendered the lamb unconscious with the second shot.”[2]
  • June 5, 2019: “An employee attempted to stun the hog using a 9mm hand-held captive bolt device (HHCB). The stun attempt was unsuccessful as the hog remained standing, vocalized, and moved around the knock box in an agitated manner. The employee immediately reloaded the HHCB and attempted to re-stun the hog, but he was unable to do so because of the animal’s unhindered movements in the knock box. The employee then decided to use a backup .22 Magnum rifle, but he had to go to an adjacent room to retrieve it. When he returned, he used the rifle to effectively render the hog unconscious. On examination of the head … there were two holes in the skull: one hole … was located just medial to the left eye socket and the second … was located in the proper stunning position.”[3]

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.[4] 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”[5] 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

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

2FSIS District 80 Manager Todd Furey, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Nelson’s Meat Processing, LLC, Est. M33927 (Aug. 8, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/4968ae11-e0b1-4a0c-a4bb-4ba2caef660c/M33927-NOROS-080819.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 80 Manager Todd Furey, Notice of Suspension, Nelson’s Meat Processing, LLC, Est. M33927 (June 5, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/b5160e62-86f4-4f30-8308-7add65a23831/M33927-NOS-060519.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

421 U.S.C. § 676.

5U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (Jan. 7, 2011) https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/01/7/under-secretary-food-safety-shares-some-insight-humane-handling-livestock (Last accessed on Aug. 23, 2019).

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

[2]FSIS District 80 Manager Todd Furey, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Nelson’s Meat Processing, LLC, Est. M33927 (Aug. 8, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/4968ae11-e0b1-4a0c-a4bb-4ba2caef660c/M33927-NOROS-080819.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[3]FSIS District 80 Manager Todd Furey, Notice of Suspension, Nelson’s Meat Processing, LLC, Est. M33927 (June 5, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/b5160e62-86f4-4f30-8308-7add65a23831/M33927-NOS-060519.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[4]21 U.S.C. § 676.

[5]U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (Jan. 7, 2011) https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/01/7/under-secretary-food-safety-shares-some-insight-humane-handling-livestock (Last accessed on Aug. 23, 2019).

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.

Contact

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind