Steer Shot in Head, Left to Suffer; PETA Seeks Investigation

For Immediate Release:
September 24, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Allegan County, Mich.

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Fillmore Beef Company outside Holland. In response, the group sent a letter today calling on Allegan County Prosecuting Attorney Myrene Koch to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the worker who left a steer standing and moving back and forth while bleeding from the head after a failed attempt to stun him. The employee attempted five more shots with two captive-bolt guns, resulting in a “significant delay,” before rendering the animal unconscious.

“This disturbing report shows that this steer experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Fillmore Beef Company,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the steer 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, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cattle, sheep, 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.

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PETA’s letter to Koch follows.

September 24, 2020

The Honorable Myrene Koch

Allegan County Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Ms. Koch,

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 Fillmore Beef Company and the worker responsible for improperly shooting a steer in the head, leaving him wounded, bleeding, and suffering for a significant period of time before finally being rendered unconscious, on August 28 at its slaughterhouse located at 5812 142nd Ave. outside Holland. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“[T]he FSIS Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI) was alerted to the knock box area due to a prolonged time lapse between attempts to stun cattle. … The CSI observed a steer, conscious, standing within the knock box, moving back and forth, with blood evident on the poll area. The employee who had been performing stunning was attempting a corrective action stun on the steer. The employee removed the cartridge from the captive bolt device, reloaded the device, and attempted to stun the steer a second and then third time. Each time the device did not discharge. The employee retrieved the backup captive bolt device from the immediate area and attempted to fire the device twice but it also did not discharge. The employee retrieved the primary captive bolt device, removed the cartridge, reloaded the device, placed and discharged the device, effectively rendering the steer unconscious at that time. … The significant delay occurring between the initial and effective corrective action stun constitutes an egregious incident.”1

This conduct appears to violate Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.50b(2). Importantly, FSIS action 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 Deputy District 50 Manager Dr. Tamara Davis, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Fillmore Beef Company, Inc. (Aug. 29, 2020)

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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