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March 4, 2010

HSUS' President Testifies on Humane Slaughter Act Enforcement

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, testified before a U.S. House subcommittee Thursday in the latest of a series of Congressional hearings on USDA's enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

Thursday's hearing is a follow-up to a 2008 hearing of the same subcommittee that was spurred by The HSUS' undercover investigation of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company in Chino, Calif., which revealed horrendous abuse of downed cows too sick and injured to stand and walk. 

The HSUS has since conducted additional undercover investigations at several livestock auctions in Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas, and at Bushway Packing, Inc., a plant in Vermont specializing in slaughter of infant veal calves. These investigations continue to uncover shocking animal abuse and misconduct by both plant employees and USDA inspectors.

"Not only is humane handling at slaughter plants essential for animal welfare, it also plays a significant role in ensuring food safety," Pacelle said. "While we are heartened by the direction that top agency officials seem headed, we know that much work remains to be done. It's like turning a battleship around. We look forward to further discussions, as we seek to work together to strengthen enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act."

The HSUS urges the animal agriculture industry to cease its claims that documented cases of abuse, such as at Hallmark and Bushway, are mere aberrations or "bad apples." Instead, Pacelle called on the industry to respond by addressing systemic problems, in order to bring about meaningful changes that would improve the treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations. 

In his testimony, Pacelle notes the encouraging opportunity for reform under the new administration, and identifies specific oversight and policy reforms that would strengthen enforcement of humane handling rules. Pacelle's written testimony is available here.

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Media Contacts: Jordan Crump: 240-654-2964, jcrump@humanesociety.org
Martin Montorfano: 240-888-1910, mmontorfano@humanesociety.org

Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

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.

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