Pigs Remained Conscious After Shots to the Head; PETA Seeks Federal Probe

PETA has obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing violations of federal law at Bob Evans Farms outside Xenia between 2018 and last month. In response, the group sent a letter today calling on U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers involved.

On August 25, a worker ineffectively shot a downed pig and cut her throat, after which the severely injured animal cried out. An additional shot to the head was required to stun her. In 2018, a downed pig continued to cry out after workers shot her in the head twice, and yet another was documented keeping upright on her forelimbs and crying out after two shots to the head and workers’ attempts to slash her throat.

“These disturbing eyewitness reports show that these pigs experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Bob Evans Farms,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal 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, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that pigs, sheep, cattle, 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.

For more information, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to DeVillers follows.

September 22, 2020

The Honorable David DeVillers

United States Attorney

Southern District of Ohio

Dear Mr. DeVillers,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Bob Evans Farms (BEF) and its workers responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.”1 At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 640 Birch Rd. in Greene County, its staff repeatedly shot conscious, crying, and immobile pigs in the head, including one who was conscious after workers cut her throat, as documented in the attached reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the reports, federal officials documented the following:

  • August 25, 2020: “[T]he FSIS Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian (SPHV) observed an employee stun a slow-moving sow [who] had become non-ambulatory and laid down in the drive alley before entering the electrical stunning chute. After the initial stun, the employee verified the animal was unconscious and proceeded to stick the sow to initiate exsanguination. Immediately after the stick, the sow vocalized and was observed to lift her head, blink naturally, and was breathing rhythmically with an increased respiratory rate. The employee recognized the animal had regained consciousness and applied a second stun with the available backup captive bolt device.”2
  • July 3, 2018: “[The SPHV] … observed a disabled or slow sow down in the hind legs and in a sitting position. … Marks were placed on the sow’s forehead to identify proper captive bolt placement. The captive bolt device was discharged into the location of the mark on the head. The sow was observed to remain in a seated position, blinking, continued rhythmically breathing, and vocalized loudly. … A second trained employee picked up the second captive bolt stunner and placed it on the sow’s forehead and discharged the device. This attempt was ineffective. The sow remained conscious, in a seated position, blinked, continued breathing, vocalized loudly, and attempted to back away from the area. … The member of BEF management had reloaded the second captive bolt device, placed and discharged the device into the head, placing the device more rostral on the sow’s forehead. The sow was observed to drop to the floor.”3
  • March 21, 2018: “The SPHV observed establishment employees attempt to stun a sow [who] was non-ambulatory disabled …. Establishment personnel marked the sow’s forehead for captive bolt placement and had two employees, each with a sort board, restrain the sow. The stunning operator aligned the captive bolt gun on the sow’s forehead and discharged. Following the stunning attempt, the sow was dazed; her forelimbs went rigid, her neck was extended, and her eyes rolled back. A few seconds later, the sow began to blink. Establishment personnel attempted to sweep the sow’s forelimbs out from under her in order to stick her to bleed, but the sow resisted attempts to lie down. Once the sow began to resist, she then vocalized two to three times. She also regained her balance and remained upright in the front. The establishment supervisor handed a backup preloaded captive bolt gun to the stunning operator. The device was placed on the sow’s forehead and discharged. After this second stunning attempt, the sow remained standing in the forelimbs, resisted efforts to be swept off her feet again, vocalized, and blinked. The first captive bolt gun was reloaded and handed to the stunning operator who then placed the device and fired. This third stunning attempt rendered the animal insensible.”4

The Federal Meat Inspection Act classifies such offenses as misdemeanors and provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.5 The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that FSIS enforcement actions alone are insufficient to deter future violations and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public. Given that the FSIS “fully supports the investigation of all those involved in alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act” and that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work”6 with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you investigate and bring appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the above violations.

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

17 U.S.C. § 1902.

2FSIS District 50 Deputy Manager Dr. Tamara Davis, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Est. M6785, Bob Evans Farms Inc. (Aug. 25, 2020) <https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/278b3ba0-b6c2-4155-9281-dd970e1b1697/m6785-noie-08252020.pdf?MOD=AJPERES>.

3FSIS District 50 Manager Paul V. Wolseley, Notice of Suspension, Est. M6785, Bob Evans Farms Inc. (July 3, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/7427ab1a-834b-4ca8-aef5-85e4bdbdef73/6785-suspension-07032018.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

4FSIS District 50 Manager Paul V. Wolseley, Notice of Intended Enforcement, Est. M6785, Bob Evans Farms Inc. (March 22, 2018) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/dedbf988-4a8d-439c-bb92-cb0813708145/6785-NOIE-032218.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

521 U.S.C. § 676.

6U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, “Under Secretary for Food Safety Shares Some Insight on the Humane Handling of Livestock,” (Jan. 7, 2011) https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/01/7/under-secretary-food-safety-shares-some-insight-humane-handling-livestock (Last accessed on Sept. 21, 2020).

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