Feds Document Animal Repeatedly Shot in the Head at Slaughterhouse

For Immediate Release:
August 26, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Warsaw, Ky. – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports revealing recent violations of federal law at Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., outside Warsaw. In response, we sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky 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 a July 23 incident in which a sheep was shot twice in the head and remained conscious, before a third shot successfully stunned the animal, and a July 2019 incident in which a worker dragged a conscious sheep by a leg for about 5 feet.

“These violations show that Harmon Brothers Meats either can’t or won’t comply with federal law designed to prevent the prolonged suffering of animals,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation into this slaughterhouse and urging everyone upset by the agony these animals endured to leave animals off their plates and go vegan today.”

Harmon Brothers Meats was cited by the USDA four times between 2017 and 2018 for the botched slaughters of a pig, a cow, and a bull and for dragging a conscious pig across the floor.

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, cows, pigs, 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 Robert M. Duncan Jr. follows.

August 26, 2020

The Honorable Robert M. Duncan Jr.

United States Attorney

Eastern District of Kentucky

Dear Mr. Duncan,

I hope this letter finds you well. You may recall PETA’s May 14, 2018, correspondence regarding at least three incidents in which workers at Harmon Brothers Meats in Gallatin County repeatedly shot a pig and cows in the head, in addition to chaining and dragging a conscious downed animal across the floor by the front legs. I’m writing to let you know that since July 2019, workers there violated the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act two more times. Therefore, we renew our request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against this business and the workers responsible for animals’ persistent, egregious suffering there.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reports regarding the latest incidents are attached for your convenience. According to the reports, federal officials documented the following.

  • July 23, 2020: “Your plant employee administered a first stun attempt on a mature sheep with a captive bolt device that was ineffective at rendering the animal unconscious wherein the animal remained standing with conscious eye tracking. Your plant employee immediately administered a second stun attempt with a captive bolt device wherein the animal remained standing with conscious eye tracking. Your plant employee then delivered a third stun attempt by captive bolt that was effective in rendering the animal unconscious.”1
  • July 18, 2019: “[K]ill floor personnel … were observed grabbing [a sheep] by the front leg … casting the animal to its side and proceeded to drag the conscious animal on its side for approximately 5 feet.”2

This abuse follows at least four prior violations of federal law, as follows.

  • April 13, 2018: “A market hog was placed in the knock box and a plant employee shot the hog with a rifle. The animal vocalized and the plant employee administered a second shot. Again, the animal vocalized and was standing [with a] conscious righting reflex. The plant employee administered a third shot and the animal went into a sternal position and was observed to have conscious eye tracking with a righting reflex. The animal attempted to crawl out of the knock box. Plant personnel lowered the side of the knock box … onto the hog’s neck, causing it to vocalize. The fourth attempt to stun the hog was made with the captive bolt device and it did render the hog insensible.”3
  • January 22, 2018: “FSIS personnel observed an animal being shot ineffectively. After the plant employee fired the first shot, the longhorn bull remained standing with conscious righting reflex and with conscious eye movement. The plant employee reloaded and fired a second shot and the longhorn bull remained standing. The plant employee fired a third shot, which rendered the bull insensible.”4
  • July 17, 2017: “[A]n establishment employee … stunned the 4th cow by captive bolt. The cow went down in the chute as if it was unconscious and employees raised the chute door and shackled the back legs and hoisted the cow into the air. The CSI [consumer safety inspector] observed that the cow began vocalizing and moving its head side to side. It tried to right itself. The CSI also observed natural blinking and coordinated eye movement. An establishment employee delivered a second stun attempt by captive bolt approximately 2 minutes following the first attempt. The second stun attempt rendered the animal unconscious and insensible.”5
  • May 8, 2017: “FSIS personnel observed an animal that was tied around the front two legs, above the knee with a chain and two employees dragging the animal. The IPP [inspection program personnel] asked the employee in charge of the slaughter floor why the animal was being dragged and he answered that the animal was hurt and didn’t want to walk. The animal looked either sick or hurt but was conscious and squealing. After they stopped dragging it, the animal was just laying on [the] floor, and it wasn’t moving at all. The IPP immediately asked the employee to knock the animal.”6

It’s clear that three years of FSIS enforcement actions have not deterred violations at this facility and that criminal prosecution must be given urgent and serious consideration. We respectfully ask that your office file appropriate charges. Thank you for your consideration.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

1FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry A. Davis, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., Est. M7356 (July 23, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d6262a57-0678-44e6-bca8-58421ea9bac8/m7356-noros-07232020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

2FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry A. Davis, Notice of Suspension, Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., Est. M7356 (July 18, 2019) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/60229452-3496-4d01-a391-ccd0b0a1c47d/M7356-NOS-071819.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry A. Davis, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., Est. M7356 (April 13, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/eb14c419-387f-40dd-8522-747841473439/M7356-Harmon-NOROS-041318.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

4FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry Davis, Notice of Suspension, Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., Est. M7356 (January 22, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e7cebdbd-5544-438c-b599-f313609acff3/M7356-Suspension-012218.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

5FSIS District 90 Manager Dr. Larry A. Davis, Notice of Reinstatement of Suspension, Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., Est. M07356 (July 17, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/742366a6-420f-4e34-9cbf-e1b9fa2332c8/M07356-NOROS-07172017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

6FSIS District 90 Manager Larry A. Davis, Notice of Suspension, Harmon Brothers Meats, Inc., Est. M07356 (May 8, 2017) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/87a79607-1f5f-49a5-990a-53d46675f3d5/M07356-Suspension-050817.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

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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