Feds See Conscious Cows Repeatedly Shot, Slashed; PETA Seeks Charges

For Immediate Release:
April 18, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Harford County, Md.

PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing seven recent violations of law at Bowman’s Butcher Shop outside Aberdeen, including one in which workers shot a cow in the head with a rifle—then, when she tried to stand up, they shackled her, hoisted her up, and cut her throat while she was still conscious. In response, PETA sent a letter today to Harford County State’s Attorney Albert J. Peisinger Jr. calling on him to review the incidents and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible.

The throat-slitting incident follows federal reports documenting six other incidents last year. Cows remained conscious after workers shot them in the head on December 10, November 12, October 20, and April 28. Federal officials also found two cows and 20 lambs confined at Bowman’s without access to water on August 12 and two cows without access to water on July 16.

“These disturbing reports paint a picture of miserable conditions and prolonged, agonizing deaths for animals at Bowman’s,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Dan Paden. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of these cows and lambs and urging everyone to help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses by going vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Peisinger follows.

April 18, 2022

The Honorable Albert J. Peisinger Jr.

Harford County State’s Attorney

Dear Mr. Peisinger:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Bowman’s Butcher Shop LLC and the workers responsible for cutting a conscious cow’s throat, repeatedly shooting four other cows in the head, and repeatedly denying animals water at its slaughterhouse located at 3452 Churchville Rd., outside Aberdeen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the latest incident, on April 1, in the attached report, which states the following:

Employees moved a large … cow into the knock box, and an employee attempted to stun the cow using a .22 LR rifle. … When the employees released the gate to allow the animal to drop to the kill floor, the animal attempted to stand up. Expecting the establishment to take a second shot with the rifle, IPP [FSIS Inspection Program Personnel] stepped off the kill floor. After not hearing a second shot, IPP re-entered the kill floor and observed that the cow had been shackled, hoisted, and stuck for bleeding.1

This egregious incident follows federal reports documenting six other instances of inhumane handling of animals in 2021. On December 10, November 12, October 20, and April 28, cows remained conscious after being shot in the head. On August 12, two cows and 20 lambs were found deprived of water. On July 16, two cows were discovered without access to water.

This conduct appears to violate MD Code, Criminal Law § 10-604. Importantly, FSIS’ action—which is clearly insufficient—carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.2

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 80 Manager Todd Furey, Notice of Suspension, Bowman’s Butcher Shop, LLC. (April 1, 2022) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2022-04/M44985-NOS-04012022.pdf. Last accessed April 14, 2022.

2See Nat’l. Meat Assoc. v. Harris, 132 S. Ct. 965, 974 n.10 (2012) (“States may exact civil

or criminal penalties for animal cruelty or other conduct that also violates the [Federal Meat

Inspection Act (FMIA)]. See [21 U.S.C.] §678; cf. Bates v. Dow Agrosciences, LLC, 544 U.S.

431, 447 (2005), holding that a preemption clause barring state laws ‘in addition to or

different’ from a federal Act does not interfere with an ‘equivalent’ state provision. Although the FMIA preempts much state law involving slaughterhouses, it thus leaves some room for the States to regulate.”).

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