Federal Probe Sought: Animals Repeatedly Shot in the Head

For Immediate Release:
January 7, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Hill County, Texas – PETA has obtained recent U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing multiple violations of federal law at Huse’s Processing slaughterhouse near Malone. In response, the group sent a letter today calling on the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas 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.

Most recently, on December 10, a heifer and a longhorn steer were each shot in the head twice before they were rendered unconscious. On October 4, a calf fell and cried out in pain after being shot and had to be shot again. On September 20, workers shot a pig with a captive-bolt gun twice before the animal was rendered unconscious. On September 10, a bull escaped during unloading and was shot at least twice before being rendered unconscious. Huse’s was warned on May 17 after a truck driver prodded a steer to walk over a downed cow. These incidents follow an October 2017 violation in which staff cut a conscious, crying goat’s throat after shooting the animal in the head.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that these animals endured prolonged, agonizing deaths at Huse’s Processing,” 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 cattle and goats as well as sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals all 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, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney John F. Bash follows.

January 7, 2020

The Honorable John F. Bash

United States Attorney

Western District of Texas

Dear Mr. Bash,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Huse’s Processing, Inc., and its workers responsible for repeat 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 3697 SH 171, Malone, Hill County, its staff repeatedly shot animals in the head as they cried out, cut a conscious goat’s neck, and more, 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:

  • December 10, 2019: “[A]t approximately 7:40 a.m. … an establishment employee attempt[ed] to stun a longhorn steer with a bolt action .22 Magnum rifle in the alley using gates to limit the animal’s free movement. The initial shot failed to render the animal unconscious and the animal attempted to escape the gates. The establishment employee immediately chambered another round and rendered the animal unconscious. . . . [A]t approximately 3:30 p.m. … an establishment employee attempt[ed] to stun a heifer … with a captive bolt. The animal fell to the ground but was still conscious and vocalizing. The establishment employee … retrieved the backup captive bolt device and rendered the animal unconscious.”[2]
  • October 4, 2019: “[A] calf slipped and fell in the knock box and could not be returned to a standing position. The first shot did not render the animal unconscious and the animal was vocalizing. The second shot rendered it unconscious.”[3]
  • September 20, 2019: Federal inspectors recorded an “ineffective stunning of a market swine using a captive bolt. The backup device was not present as mandated by the establishment’s Robust Systematic Approach to Humane Handling. After the initial knock did not render the animal unconscious …[a]n employee loaded a second captive bolt and the animal was rendered unconscious.”[4]
  • September 10, 2019: Federal inspectors witnessed the “ineffective stunning of [a] bull with gunshot. The bull escaped during unloading. It was corralled in a corner and the first shot failed to render it unconscious.”[5]
  • May 16, 2019: “[A]t approximately 10:45 a.m. … [a federal inspector] observed a young, disabled heifer sprawled in lateral recumbence in the center of the floor of the center compartment of the livestock trailer. He also observed the truck driver prodding an ambulatory steer to walk over the heifer.”[6]
  • October 4, 2017: A federal official “heard a goat … [who] had been knocked utilizing a captive bolt, but was still vocalizing. He informed plant employees about the vocalizing goat. … [T]he employee in the hoisting area then severed the neck of the goat through all of the soft tissue to the vertebrae. The goat stopped bleating.”[7]

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.[8] 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 of 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”[9] 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

Assistant Manager of Investigations

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

2FSIS District 40 Manager Dr. Jennifer Beasley-McKean, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Huse’s Processing Inc. (Dec. 11, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/20ea3b06-1737-4ce9-a32e-009f44622c68/13445-huse-noie-121119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Ibid.

6FSIS District 40 Manager Dr. Jennifer Beasley-McKean, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Huse’s Processing Inc. (May 17, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/1cb03b1c-1b12-4bc7-a457-c3d9ae19b252/13445-NOIE-051719.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

7FSIS District 40 Manager Dr. Jennifer Beasley-McKean, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Huse’s Processing Inc. (Oct. 5, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d9eac35d-dc8c-49db-ab50-2e86cc41e4e8/13445-NOIE-100517.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

821 U.S.C. § 676.

9U.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 Jan. 3, 2020).

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

[2]FSIS District 40 Manager Dr. Jennifer Beasley-McKean, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Huse’s Processing Inc. (Dec. 11, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/20ea3b06-1737-4ce9-a32e-009f44622c68/13445-huse-noie-121119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Ibid.

[5]Ibid.

[6]FSIS District 40 Manager Dr. Jennifer Beasley-McKean, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Huse’s Processing Inc. (May 17, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/1cb03b1c-1b12-4bc7-a457-c3d9ae19b252/13445-NOIE-051719.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[7]FSIS District 40 Manager Dr. Jennifer Beasley-McKean, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Huse’s Processing Inc. (Oct. 5, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d9eac35d-dc8c-49db-ab50-2e86cc41e4e8/13445-NOIE-100517.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

[8]21 U.S.C. § 676.

[9]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 Jan. 3, 2020).

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