Federal Probe Sought: Bull Shocked 26 Times, Conscious Sheep’s Throat Sliced

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

San Luis Obispo, Calif. – PETA has obtained a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing that operations were suspended at Creston Valley Meats (San Luis Obispo County) last month after a co-owner shocked a bull at least 26 times. This came five months after operations were suspended following an incident in which workers improperly shot a sheep in the head, slit the conscious animal’s throat, and then left the knife lodged in the sheep’s throat before shooting the animal in the head again.

In response, PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California 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.

“These disturbing revelations that a sheep experienced a prolonged, agonizing death and a bull was painfully tormented prior to slaughter show a shocking disregard for animal welfare at this facility,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the animals who suffered at Creston Valley Meats and urging all compassionate members of the public who are distressed by this cruelty to go vegan.”

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, bulls, cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals have a central nervous system and sense of self-preservation, 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 for the Central District of California Nicola T. Hanna follows.

July 11, 2019

The Honorable Nicola T. Hanna

United States Attorney

Central District of California

Dear Mr. Hanna,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Creston Valley 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 3280 Calf Canyon Hwy. in San Luis Obispo County, its staff cut the throat of a conscious sheep and shot the animal twice in the head and a co-owner electroshocked a bull at least 26 times, 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 11, 2019: “[T]he FSIS Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) … observed two employees stunning and sticking three sheep in [the] stunning chute area … one of the employees leaned over into the knock box to stun the sheep. The other employee then started sticking the sheep. When he reached the third sheep which had been stunned approximately 30 seconds prior, he stuck his knife into the animal’s throat and the animal started blinking its eyes and focusing on the movement of employees in the area. The CSI immediately asked the employee to stop sticking the animal. The employee did not cut the throat completely so that the knife was stuck in the throat. The CSI immediately notified the stunner operator that this last sheep was still conscious, and the operator stunned the animal a second time which rendered the animal unconscious. The second employee then completed [the] sticking of the animal. Afterwards the CSI looked at the skinned head of this animal and observed two stunning holes. One hole was improperly situated behind the head ….”[2]
  • June 14, 2019: “The bull was in the alley to the restrainer box … [the facility’s co-owner] retrieved the battery-operated hand-held electric prod. The SPHV [Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] could hear the electric current when the prod was activated and touched the animal. After several brief applications, at 2:14 pm [the co-owner] applied the activated prod nine times in close succession. The animal flinched, kicked and jumped each time the activated prod was applied. After one minute, [the co-owner] then prodded the bull with the activated prod an additional twelve times. … [He] then again applied the prod to the bull five more times, holding the activated prod on the animal for at least two seconds each time. The bull again flinched, kicked and jumped each time it was shocked.”[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 05 Manager Yudhbir Sharma, DVM, Notice of Suspension, Est. M/P 22095 (Jan. 11, 2019) <https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d9b9549f-7912-4cdc-a2ea-7ed6692b58ec/22095-creston-nos-011119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES>.

3FSIS District 05 Manager Yudhbir Sharma, DVM, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Est. M/P 22095 (June 14, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/afccaa3e-80bc-45fb-92f6-c3e19f101e8f/mp22095-noros-061419.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 July 9, 2019).

[1]7 U.S.C. § 1902.

[2]FSIS District 05 Manager Yudhbir Sharma, DVM, Notice of Suspension, Est. M/P 22095 (Jan. 11, 2019) <https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d9b9549f-7912-4cdc-a2ea-7ed6692b58ec/22095-creston-nos-011119.pdf?MOD=AJPERES>.

[3]FSIS District 05 Manager Yudhbir Sharma, DVM, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Est. M/P 22095 (June 14, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/afccaa3e-80bc-45fb-92f6-c3e19f101e8f/mp22095-noros-061419.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 July 9, 2019).

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