For Immediate Release:
May 18, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Hudsonville, Mich. – Following a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report documenting that a steer suspected of having hydrocephalus—a buildup of fluid deep within the brain—remained conscious after being shot repeatedly at West Michigan Beef Co. in Hudsonville, PETA fired off a letter today to the facility’s owner, Don Vander Boon, calling on him to livestream video footage from the slaughterhouse to help prevent additional egregious violations of law.
On April 27, a worker ineffectively shot a Holstein steer four times in the head—with the animal remaining conscious, bleeding, and blinking—before a fifth blast ended his suffering. The animal had an enlarged head consistent with hydrocephalus, and a postmortem examination revealed that the swollen top half of the head was filled with blood and fluid and that the first few shots to the head had missed the brain completely.
“This animal, who was already suffering from a serious condition, endured an agonizing death with four shots to the head before the worker finally rendered him insensible to pain with a fifth shot,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on this facility to livestream its slaughter operations publicly and reminds everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”
PETA has also asked Vander Boon to report the employee involved in the incident to local law-enforcement officials and reassign that individual to a position that doesn’t involve having contact with live animals.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Vander Boon follows.
May 18, 2023
Don Vander Boon
Owner and Manager
West Michigan Beef Co. LLC
Dear Mr. Vander Boon:
Given the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report detailing how a steer suffering from hydrocephaly remained conscious after your workers shot him in the head four times at West Michigan Beef Co., we ask that you immediately change operations there in the hope of reducing animal suffering in your slaughterhouse.
Will you please publicly livestream video from all areas of your facility where live animals are handled? Workers would take their duty to handle animals lawfully more seriously if they knew that caring people were watching. As the world’s foremost expert on livestock welfare, Dr. Temple Grandin, writes, “Plants [t]hat are doing a good job should show what they are doing.” Your industry often complains that today’s consumers don’t understand how animals are raised and killed for food. You could help by enabling us to observe your workers moving countless individual animals—who value their lives as we value ours—off crowded trucks in all types of weather, attempting to stun them, slashing or sticking their throats, and bleeding them to death.
At the very least, will you reassign your staff referenced in the federal report to a job that doesn’t involve having contact with any live animals—such as evisceration, butchering, and packaging—and report the involved personnel to your local law-enforcement agency for investigation for possible violations of the state’s anti-cruelty statute?
Thanks for your consideration.
Investigations Project Manager