Federal Probe Sought: Animals Repeatedly Shot in the Head

For Immediate Release:
August 11, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Fallon, Nev. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing recent violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act at York Meats outside Fallon. In response, we sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. attorney for the District of Nevada to review the matters and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible for the violations.

The reports show that on July 15, a worker shot a boar with a rifle three times, leaving him crying out and walking, before a fourth shot finally stunned him. In November 2019, it took workers five attempts with a captive bolt gun to render a crying lamb unconscious. And in July 2018, workers shot a bull in the head four times and then left the conscious animal to suffer for 20 minutes before returning to shoot him again.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at York Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the animals 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.

For more information, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas A. Trutanich follows.

August 11, 2020
The Honorable Nicholas A. Trutanich
United States Attorney
District of Nevada

Dear Mr. Trutanich,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against York 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 3600 York Ln., Fallon, NV 89406, its staff shot animals in the head up to five times on at least three occasions, leaving them crying out and/or suffering for up to 20 minutes, 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 15, 2020: “The establishment employee leaned over the restrainer box railing and fired [a] rifle at the center of [a] boar’s forehead. However, this attempt did not produce immediate unconsciousness, as the hog was moving freely in the restrainer, walking in a circle, and squealing loudly. The establishment employee then reached for the already-loaded backup .45 caliber rifle and fired a second stun to the forehead. The hog continued to freely move and walk in circles in the restrainer, squealing louder. [The employee] applied a third stun to the hog, but the hog remained standing and vocalizing …. The employee then applied the fourth stun, and the hog fell on its side, stopped vocalizing, and was rendered unconscious.”2
  • November 20, 2019: “[T]he FSIS Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) observed an establishment employee attempt to knock a lamb. The establishment employee applied the first knock on the center of the lamb’s forehead directly above the eyes. The lamb fell onto its side, but then immediately attempted to rise by extending its front legs out and pushing itself up. The CSI observed the lamb vocalizing and rhythmically breathing. The lamb’s eyes were tracking and blinking. The establishment employee proceeded with a second knock in the center of the forehead again directly above the animal’s eyes … however, the lamb continued to vocalize, and the CSI observed the lamb breathing. The CSI also observed that the lamb’s eyes were still tracking and blinking. The establishment employee applied a third knock, and the knocking rod got stuck half way out of the knocker, so your employee manually pulled it out. Your establishment employee then attempted a fourth knock, which was a misfire as no ammunition was discharged. After attempting to knock the lamb four (4) times, the lamb was still laying on its side, breathing, with its rib cage rising and falling, vocalizing and eyes tracking and blinking. At that time [the facility owner] instructed a more experienced employee to come apply an additional knock. The second employee successfully applied the fifth knock rendering the animal unconscious.”3
  • July 25, 2018: “[T]he CSI heard four gunshots from the knock box. The CSI went to the knock box to investigate, and observed a mature bull that had been knocked four times, with four entry holes in its forehead, that was still breathing. The bull was breathing, kneeling on its front legs, and had its head raised, with eyes moving and looking around. The CSI asked the stunner employee what the problem was, and the employee stated the animal was too large for the .17 magnum rifle. The CSI notified … [the] establishment owners … that this was an egregious inhumane event. The CSI … called his supervisor, while [an establishment owner] went to retrieve a larger gun. Approximately 20 minutes later, [the] establishment effectively stunned the bull with a .38 magnum pistol.”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 05 Manager Dr. Yudhbir Sharma, Notice of Suspension, York Meats (Jul. 16, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ee442ad2-9c80-463c-ba80-a0a787d8ccc8/m6482-nos-07162020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
3FSIS District 05 Manager Dr. Yudhbir Sharma, Notice of Suspension, York Meats (Nov. 20, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/f8fdb1ec-aa3f-4453-a1eb-c8238f3ce3fc/m6482-york-nos-112019.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
4FSIS District 05 Manager Dr. Yudhbir Sharma, Notice of Suspension, York Meats (Jul. 25, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/adfbadae-0aee-4242-a3d5-a8c9b15be086/M6482-York-NOS-072518.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 Aug. 10, 2020).

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 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