October 30, 2009
HSUS Investigation Results in Closure of Vermont Slaughter Plant
Evidence Shows Abuse Inflicted on Infant Veal Calves
The Humane Society of the United States today released the results of an undercover investigation documenting shocking animal abuse at a Vermont slaughter plant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture took decisive action today based on the information provided by The HSUS and immediately suspended operations at the plant, pending a continuing investigation. The HSUS is cooperating with agencies, and provided undercover footage and some preliminary findings to them earlier this week.
Videotape from the investigation reveals that veal calves only a few days old — many with their umbilical cords still hanging from their bodies — were unable to stand or walk on their own. The tape shows that the animals were kicked, slapped and repeatedly shocked with electric prods and subjected to other mistreatment. After reviewing the undercover footage obtained by the HSUS investigator in August and September 2009, animal scientists Dr. Temple Grandin and Kurt Vogel pronounced that, "the handling practices and attention to insensibility at this plant are unacceptable and must improve."
The investigation of Bushway Packing, Inc. of Grand Isle, Vt., was conducted nearly two years after The HSUS revealed to an appalled nation the routine abuse of downed cows at a California slaughter plant which supplied the National School Lunch Program. That investigation prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history and led to a new federal regulation that banned the slaughter of downer cattle, but it retained an exemption for downer calves.
Vermont Veal Calf Slaughter Investigation
"We are grateful to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee for taking decisive action to address the problems at this slaughter plant, and for taking animal welfare concerns so seriously," said Michael Markarian, HSUS chief operating officer. "All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food, and this type of abuse has got to stop."
In this latest stomach-wrenching look inside America's meat industry, the HSUS undercover investigator focused on the handing and slaughter of infant veal calves, including those too weak to stand or injured and unable to rise. These suffering animals were routinely subjected to cruel treatment, including excessive electric shocking, in attempts to make them stand so they could be slaughtered.
The investigation also uncovered:
Grandin and Vogel assert that "electric prods were commonly used in an abusive manner to force nonambulatory calves to rise. This is unacceptable and should not continue. It is unacceptable to allow workers to kick calves to make them rise as was observed…This is a definite act of abuse."
Some of the calves had died or fallen down on the trip to the slaughter facility. Grandin and Vogel also stated that calves unable to stand and walk on their own should be euthanized.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.