PETA Wants Probe of Pigs’ Prolonged Deaths

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2021

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Sioux Center, Iowa – PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing recent violations of law at Sioux-Preme Packing Co. outside Sioux Center. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible.

On April 8, an inspector found that a pig who had been inadequately stunned was hoisted upside down and struggling to right him- or herself. The pig could have been plunged alive and conscious into scalding-hot water had the federal inspector not intervened and asked an employee to stun the animal. The worker then shot the pig with a captive bolt gun in an incorrect area of the head, and the wounded animal remained conscious until a second shot was administered.

The slaughterhouse was also cited for an incident on November 5, 2020, in which two workers shot a downed pig four times before the animal was rendered unconscious, and the report notes that the pig remained “excited” and attempted to flee after being shot.

“These disturbing reports show that pigs experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Sioux-Preme Packing,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the pigs who suffered at this facility and urging all compassionate members of the public who are disturbed by this cruelty to go vegan and help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses.”

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

For more information, visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Kunstle follows.

May 3, 2021

The Honorable Thomas Kunstle

Sioux County Attorney

Dear Mr. Kunstle,

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 Sioux-Preme Packing Co. and the workers responsible for repeatedly shooting pigs in the head—including one who was found conscious after being shackled and hoisted upside down—on two recent occasions at its slaughterhouse located at 4241 US 75 Ave. outside Sioux Center. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

April 8: “[T]he SPHV [FSIS Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] … noticed a market hog on the shackle line bending from side to side and kicking [his or her] front legs. As the SPHV approached the pig, he noticed there was no blood coming from the sternal area of the pig and upon looking closer noticed the pig, … did not get stuck …. The pig continuously was trying to right [him- or herself], lifting [his or her] head in a controlled manner from side to side with some rotation. The SPHV noticed the eyes were wide open and congested with blood. The SPHV checked for a palpebral reflex and one was present. By that time, [an] employee was at the hog to initiate a hand-held captive bolt (HHCB) stun. The pig was continuously trying to right [him or herself], lifting [his or her] head in a controlled manner. The first stun went midline between the ears which was about 1.5 inches higher than a junction of two lines drawn between each ear and the contralateral eye. [Redacted] … arrived and [FSIS staff] showed him that the pig had not been properly stunned and that the employee [had] attempted to stun the animal. The employee administering the HHCB stun had both hands on the gun with no additional restraint or assistance. The SPHV could see the HHCB rod between the pig and the device after it was fired a second time. An effective second stun attempt was administered.”1

November 5: “There were two pigs laying in the alleyway [who] would not get up. … One of the establishment employees arrived with a hand-held captive bolt device. IPP [Inspection Program Personnel] observed the … employee load the hand-held captive bolt device and attempt to stun one of the pigs without restraint. The first stun attempt resulted in a conscious excited pig. Immediately, the establishment employee grabbed a second pre-loaded hand-held captive bolt device and attempted a second stun. The second stun attempt resulted in a conscious pig and IPP observed the pig sit up on [his or her] front end and attempt to run away from the employee. IPP walked to the front of the pig to inspect the stun area and noticed 2 wounds slightly overlapping, midline, with the top wound being even with a line drawn from the lateral canthus of both eyes. The pig could not get up on [his or her] back legs. A [second] employee grabbed the first hand-held captive bolt device, loaded it, and administered a third stun. The third stun attempt resulted in a conscious pig [who] tried to get away by spinning around and facing the opposite direction. The [second] employee administered a fourth stun, with the same hand-held captive bolt device, which resulted in an unconscious pig.”2

This conduct appears to violate Iowa Code § 717.2(1)(c). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.3

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 25 Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Sioux-Preme Packing Co. (April 9, 2021) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2021-04/m5537-nos-04092021.pdf.

2FSIS District 25 Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Sioux-Preme Packing Co. (November 6, 2020) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2021-02/m5537-noie-11062020.pdf.

3See 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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