For Immediate Release:
September 1, 2022
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Washington County, Md. – Following recently published federal reports documenting that dozens of pigs and cattle were deprived of food and/or water and that a worker shot an unidentified animal multiple times at the Hoffman’s Quality Meats slaughterhouse near Hagerstown, PETA fired off a letter today to Washington County State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion calling on her to investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the workers responsible.
According to the reports, on March 17 a worker shot an unspecified animal in the head but failed to stun him or her, leaving the animal conscious until a second shot ended the animal’s suffering. And on at least seven separate occasions between March 2021 and February 2022, a total of 63 cattle and pigs were found deprived of food and/or water—in one case, animals were found with no food or water two days after they were brought to the slaughterhouse.
“This slaughterhouse is hell on Earth for animals, where pigs and cattle languished thirsty and hungry and where a worker killed an animal slowly and painfully,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on the Washington County state’s attorney to step in and help prevent more illegal suffering by investigating and bringing appropriate charges—and is reminding everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”
PETA points out that pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do. The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse like those at Hoffman’s since at least 2007.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Cirincion follows.
September 1, 2022
The Honorable Gina Cirincion
Washington County State’s Attorney
Dear Ms. Cirincion:
I’m writing to request that your office (and a law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against those responsible for repeatedly shooting an animal in the head—and depriving dozens of cows and pigs of water and/or food on at least seven occasions—at Hoffman’s Quality Meats, a slaughterhouse located at 13225 Cearfoss Pike, near Hagerstown. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in reports that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table.)
According to the reports, on March 17 a worker shot an unidentified animal in the head with a captive bolt, which penetrated the animal’s skull but left them still conscious. A second shot ended the animal’s suffering.
On February 10, four cows were found without water or food, even though they had arrived at the slaughterhouse two nights earlier. On January 12, a federal agent found animals with access only to a water barrel that was “frozen solid.” On December 28, 2021, 11 cows were found deprived of water. On October 26, 2021, two pigs who had been at the slaughterhouse since the previous morning were found without water or food and 15 steers were found deprived of water. On July 21, 2021, 14 cows who had arrived at the facility the previous day were found without water. On March 23, 2021, two pigs were found unable to access water. Finally, on March 2, 2021, 13 cows “for Whole Foods” were found deprived of water.
This conduct may violate MD Code Criminal Law § 10-604 and does not represent the customary and normal agricultural and food processing practices otherwise exempt from prosecution. Please note that FSIS’ action carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of cruelty to animals. Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department