Federal Probe Sought: Animals Shot Repeatedly While Conscious

For Immediate Release:
February 10, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Johnstown, Pa. – We have obtained recent U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing repeated violations of federal law at Pudliner Packing outside of Johnstown. In response, we sent a letter today calling on the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania 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 cows and a pig repeatedly while the animals remained conscious and cried out and for cutting the throat of a conscious cow.

On January 27, an inspector observed a cow vocalizing loudly and looking around after she had been shot in the head three times and hung upside down. A worker ignored her cries and cut her throat while she was still conscious. In an incident on June 26, 2019, it took three shots to stun a cow while she bellowed in distress. On July 31, 2018, it took three shots to stun a pig, who cried out and recoiled while blood ran down his or her snout.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that these animals suffered prolonged, agonizing deaths at Pudliner Packing,” 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 cows, pigs, 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, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady follows.

February 10, 2020

The Honorable Scott W. Brady

United States Attorney

Western District of Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Brady,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Pudliner Packing 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 167 Norton Rd., outside of Johnstown, its staff repeatedly shot cows and a pig in the head and cut the throat of a conscious cow who was crying out, 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:

  • January 27, 2020: “Establishment personnel stunned a Holstein dairy cow in the stunning area with a firearm, then proceeded to winch it into the area to be shackled and hoisted. While the bovine was hanging on the rail, the [Consumer Safety Inspector] was able to determine that the animal was not insensible as it was vocalizing loudly and looking around. The establishment employee ignored the vocalization and continued to hang the bovine, then made the bleeding cut on a conscious animal. Shortly after the bleeding cut, the animal lost sensibility. After the bovine was skinned out, three holes were observed in the cranium.”[2]
  • June 26, 2019: “The [federal inspector] … was listening to the firearm stunning of a cow in the alley to the stun box, where the Establishment often stuns cattle. He heard the first gunshot but did not hear the animal fall. He heard a second gunshot and then heard the cow bellowing from the alley. He heard a third stunning attempt with the hand held captive bolt and heard the cow fall. The employees brought the animal into the slaughter floor and removed the head. Three holes were observed in the skull. The stunning employee told Inspection that as he went to shoot the first shot, the animal moved its head; he tried a second shot and it moved its head in the other direction and remained standing. Then he used a captive bolt and rendered the animal unconscious.”[3]
  • July 31, 2018: “An establishment employee attempted to stun the swine with a hand held captive bolt. After the first stunning attempt, the hog squealed and recoiled back to the other end of the stun box but remained standing and alert. A second stun was attempted with a .22 caliber rifle in which the hog squealed again and recoiled back to the other end of the stun box. The [federal inspector] observed blood running down the snout of the hog and the Establishment employee handed the rifle to the Establishment owner who then made a third stunning attempt with the .22 caliber rifle …. Upon post mortem inspection of the head, the Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian observed three distinct holes in the skull confirming that it took three stunning attempts to effectively stun the animal.”[4]

All this comes after the FSIS suspended the assignment of its inspectors to Pudliner Packing for a total of five days in September 2016 after twice observing inhumane handling of livestock there. 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 years of 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 collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s Enforcement and Litigation Division 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 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jan. 27, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/9d05ee70-729b-4b48-bfd2-2f18d4a81016/4999-ros-012720.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jun. 26, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/a64b6eb3-ff42-458c-8172-fe94f09639a1/4999-noros-062619.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

4FSIS District 60 Manager Susan G. Scarcia, Notice of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jul. 31, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/46b337a4-3600-4b37-993c-b9613c211f4c/4999-Pudliner-NOS-073118.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 Feb. 10, 2010).

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

[2]FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jan. 27, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/9d05ee70-729b-4b48-bfd2-2f18d4a81016/4999-ros-012720.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[3]FSIS District 60 Manager Dr. Lynda Lilyestrom, Reinstatement of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jun. 26, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/a64b6eb3-ff42-458c-8172-fe94f09639a1/4999-noros-062619.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[4]FSIS District 60 Manager Susan G. Scarcia, Notice of Suspension, Pudliner Packing (Jul. 31, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/46b337a4-3600-4b37-993c-b9613c211f4c/4999-Pudliner-NOS-073118.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

[5]21 U.S.C. § 676.

[6]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 Feb. 10, 2010).

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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