Lambs Shot Repeatedly; PETA Seeks Charges

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Canyon County, Idaho – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports revealing recent violations of law at Northwest Premium Meats outside of Nampa. In response, the group sent a letter today calling on Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Taylor to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible for shooting numerous animals in the head repeatedly before they were rendered unconscious and for attempting to shackle and hoist a conscious pig.

Most recently, on December 1, one lamb remained conscious and standing through three shots to the head. Another lamb was left standing and blinking after being shot by the same worker. On October 6, a worker shot a steer in the head three times with two guns and shackled and hoisted him upside down before a federal veterinarian saw that the animal was still conscious and ordered the worker to shoot him a fourth time. On July 15, USDA personnel saw a slaughterhouse worker electrocute a pig and attempt to shackle the animal’s leg. Still conscious, the pig—“twitching and tremoring”—stood up and walked before being shot in the head with a rifle by the worker.

“Animals victimized by the meat industry suffer terribly every single day, as this slaughterhouse’s repeated, gruesome violations show,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Anyone disturbed by these incidents can help stop this cruelty by simply keeping animal flesh off their plates.”

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, pigs, cows, 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, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Taylor follows.

December 17, 2020

The Honorable Bryan Taylor

Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Mr. Taylor:

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 Northwest Premium Meats, LLC, and the worker(s) responsible for repeatedly shooting two lambs and a cow in the head and trying to shackle a conscious pig recently at its slaughterhouse located at 137 N. Happy Valley Rd. outside Nampa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

December 1, 2020: “Three lambs were in the concrete stun box along with the stun operator. The stun operator stunned the first animal with a hand-held captive bolt (HHCB) device and the SPHV [Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] observed the lamb remained quietly standing, breathing, and blinking. The stun operator reloaded the HHCB device and applied a second stun attempt. The … animal remained quietly standing, breathing, and blinking. The stun operator reloaded the HHCB device and applied a third stun attempt. The … animal continued to remain quietly standing, breathing, and blinking. … The stun operator retrieved the firing mechanism from the back-up HHCB device located at the stun box and attached it to the primary HHCB device. With this altered HHCB device/modification to the HHCB, the stun operator applied a fourth stun attempt and the lamb was rendered immediately insensible. The stun operator continued with the same modified HHCB device and applied a stun attempt to a second lamb. The SPHV observed the lamb remain standing, breathing, and blinking. The stun operator reloaded the modified HHCB device and applied a second stun attempt to the lamb which rendered the animal immediately insensible.”1

October 6, 2020: “[T]he CSI [Consumer Safety Inspector] observed the stun operator stun a beef steer held in the stun box with a … HHCB …. The CSI observed the animal remain standing after the stunning attempt. The steer did not vocalize and stood quietly. The stun operator reloaded the same HHCB device and applied a second stun attempt. The steer remained standing, did not vocalize, and stood quietly. … The stun operator loaded the back-up HHCB device available at the front of the stun box and stunned the steer a third time. The animal dropped in the box and was rolled out onto the slaughter floor. The CSI observed the animal briefly as the operator proceeded to shackle and hoist the animal. The SPHV approached the hoisted steer and observed rhythmic breathing (in succession, at least 6 breaths). The SPHV then touched the globe of the eye and elicited a blinking, palpebral response. The steer proceeded to blink unsolicited. The SPHV instructed the stun operator to stun the animal again. The fourth stun attempt rendered the animal insensible.”2

July 15, 2020: “[A federal official] observed the establishment stun operator apply a head-only electric stun on a market hog. The animal fell and leaned against the wall and appeared insensible. The stun operator attempted to use the electric stun wand on the chest, but the wand did not discharge. The employee then grabbed the hind-leg of the animal and attempted to shackle the animal. The pig then stood up, and [a federal official] also observed [that] the animal regain[ed] consciousness, was ambulating, and was twitching and tremoring. The stun operator retrieved the .22 rifle and successfully stunned the animal with a stun to the forehead.”3

This conduct appears to violate Idaho Code § 25-3504. Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.4

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

1FSIS District 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Reinstatement of Suspension, Northwest Premium Meats, LLC (Dec. 1, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e31ca087-d6db-41fd-bdc7-d85db4b0447f/m11032-noros-12012020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

2FSIS District 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Reinstatement of Suspension, Northwest Premium Meats, LLC (Oct. 6, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/4cadfb38-53b5-4b79-a7eb-498faca1be1a/m11032-ros-10062020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

3FSIS District 15 Manager Valerie Clay, Notice of Suspension, Northwest Premium Meats, LLC (July 15, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/3321f250-fe1c-4155-a8b2-b2d8d2bb66ee/m11032-nos-07152020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

4See 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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