Federal Probe Sought: Animals Repeatedly Shot in Head While Conscious

For Immediate Release:
July 22, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

North Pole, Alaska – PETA has obtained recent U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing multiple recent violations of federal law at Alaska Interior Meats outside North Pole. In response, we sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. attorney for the District of Alaska 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. As recently as this month, inspectors have witnessed workers shooting animals in the head three times before they were rendered unconscious, including a cow who remained standing and crying out after being shot and a pig who remained standing and swinging her head after she’d been shot. Another pig was shackled and hoisted into the air but came loose and crashed to the floor. Workers slashed the pig’s throat then shackled and lifted the animal again, only for him or her to come loose and fall to the floor a second time, after which the pig regained consciousness and sat up.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that these animals endured prolonged, agonizing deaths at Alaska Interior Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the cow and pigs 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, cows, bulls, sheep, 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.

For more information, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska Bryan Schroder follows.

July 22, 2020

The Honorable Bryan Schroder

United States Attorney

District of Alaska

Dear Mr. Schroder,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Alaska Interior 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.”1 At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 1561 Levee Way outside of North Pole, its staff repeatedly shot two animals in the head and allowed a third animal to regain consciousness after his or her throat was cut and he or she fell headfirst to the floor, 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:

  • July 1, 2020: “[A] heifer was brought into the restrainer for stunning. Given that a .22 caliber firearm would be used, the CSI [Consumer Safety Inspector] moved to the outside of the doorway and stood there while they waited for Mr. Shannon Mobley, Establishment Co-Manager, to perform the stunning. The CSI heard the first stun attempt with a firearm. After the first stun attempt, the CSI heard the heifer vocalize. The vocalization consisted of a sustained, mooing sound at a moderate volume. Immediately after, the CSI heard a second stun attempt with the firearm after which the heifer vocalized again in a similar manner. The CSI looked into the kill floor from the doorway and was able to see the tail of the heifer moving up and down in a steady manner and determined that the animal was still standing. A third stun attempt with a firearm followed, at which point the heifer was rendered insensible. . . . The skull of the heifer was examined following the dressing procedures and three penetrating stun holes were identified. Two of the three stun holes were located outside the normal area where stun attempts are placed. They were located slightly above the eye level of the heifer’s skull.”2
  • April 21, 2020: “The SPHV [Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] observed the stun operator apply a first stun attempt with a firearm. After the first stun attempt, the sow remained standing in the stun box. The sow actively walked forward a couple of steps and swung her head from side to side. … The stun operator immediately applied a second stun attempt with the same firearm. After the second stun attempt, the sow remained standing in the stun box. The sow continued to actively swing her head from side to side. … The SPHV continued to observe the body of the sow in the stun box through the plastic window on the door. … The third stun attempt was effective in rendering the sow insensible; the sow dropped in the stun box and did not actively move.”3
  • November 6, 2019: “The SPHV observed the stun operator … stun a market swine …. The swine’s rear leg was shackled. While the swine was being hoisted, the shackle loosened and fell off the animal’s leg, releasing the swine to the ground. While the swine was lying in lateral recumbency on the ground and still unconscious, the animal was stuck for bleeding. The swine’s rear leg was re-shackled and the swine was fully hoisted off the ground while unconscious. The SPHV observed, after a few seconds, the shackle loosen a second time and the swine fall to the ground, initially landing on … [his or her] head. The SPHV observed the animal regain consciousness. The SPHV observed the swine sit upright and maintain a sitting position with the back legs bent and the front legs straight with the hooves on the ground. … The stun operator applied a second attempt with the electrical stunning device to the head, which rendered the animal unconscious.”4

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 $1,000.5 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”6 with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you 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

Assistant Manager of Investigations

17 U.S.C. § 1902.

2FSIS District 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Reinstatement of Suspension, Alaska Interior Meats, LLC, Establishment M40463 (Jul. 1, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ea7061a4-6f0e-437d-9b3a-1592874d3d52/m40463-noros-07012020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Notice of Suspension, Alaska Interior Meats, LLC, Establishment M40463 (Apr. 21, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/39d5c648-b8d8-4f29-9cb2-567e3b792eff/m40463-nos-04212020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

4FSIS District 15 Acting Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Alaska Interior Meats, LLC, Establishment M40463 (Nov. 7, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/179ed49e-917b-465a-8218-9f926cb74761/m40463-alaska-nos-110719.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

521 U.S.C. § 676.

6U.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 Jul. 21, 2020)

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“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

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