Another undercover investigation exposing cruelty toward animals bound for slaughter has surfaced, resulting in calls to close a loophole in the law to better protect veal calves.
The behind-the-scenes investigation in late 2013 by The Humane Society of the United States revealed that calves that were too sick or injured to walk on their own were still sent to slaughter at a New Jersey meat-processing plant, prompting the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to suspend operations at the facility.
That practice of killing “downer” calves is not against USDA regulations, which do forbid sending injured or sick adult cattle to slaughter.
Male dairy calves, the progeny of dairy cows in milking operations, have no use in the dairy industry, and are routinely sent to slaughter to be turned into veal.
In the interest of preventing human illness and stopping animal cruelty, the USDA will intervene when it learns of sick and downer adult cattle being sent to slaughter. The HSUS wants that protection extended to all animals in the livestock system and has asked the USDA to close the loophole that has left veal calves at the mercy of brutal handlers. The advocacy has set up a petition to the USDA in which people can thank the agency for acting to close the New Jersey plant, and also ask that the government close the calf loophole.
In the video, the calves are hung on the slaughter line still conscious and are poked and harassed to get up so they can get into line at the slaughter house.
The USDA acted to temporarily close the Catelli Bros. plant in Shrewsbury, N.J., after the HSUS filed a legal complaint and played footage of their undercover video for officials. The video shows“serious and systemic violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act,” according to HSUS, specifically capturing these events:
- Still-conscious calves struggling while hanging upside down on a conveyor belt.
- Calves being shot numerous times before reaching unconsciousness.
- A truck driver dragging a downed calf with a chain around his neck.
- Plant managers twisting downed calves’ ears and tails when they were too exhausted or weak to stand, lifting the entire weight of some calves by their tails, and telling employees never to do the same when USDA inspectors are watching.
- Employees shocking, hitting, and spraying calves with water.
HSUS posted video evidence of the abuses on You Tube, but we wouldn’t recommend watching them.
If you want to get see a sampling of the evidence and get a taste of the attitude toward the animals, without having to watch the graphic details, view the video from about 1:50 to 2:20, a section which documents a conversation between the undercover HSUS worker and the driver of a truck making a delivery of calves. The investigator/worker tells the driver that a calf with a broken leg cannot get up and walk out of the truck, to which the truck driver replies that the calf “just wants to play lazy now.”
The calf is dragged from the truck.
The animals rights group asked animal treatment expert Bernie Rollin, distinguished professor of animal science at Colorado State University, to watch the video and respond.
Rollin, who has lectured widely about animal mistreatment and has viewed videos of animal abuses across the United States and in Europe, including some that resulted in prison sentences for the perpetrators, wrote that:
“Of all the atrocity videos I have viewed, the current video of the slaughterhouse at Catelli Brothers must be ranked among the three worst….,” Rollin said. “The conclusion to be drawn from this video data is self-evident. This plant should be closed down immediately.”
Rollin goes on to explain that the video is a “poster boy for animal cruelty,” which is officially defined by the federal government as the “unnecessary, deviant, purposeless, sadistic, intentional” infliction of suffering on animals.
He notes that St. Thomas Aquinas first noted that humans who treat animals that way will graduate to treating humans similarly, “an insight fully confirmed by psychological research. . . “
“Not only are the animals hurt, but such callous attitudes are contagious, and spread to other workers. In addition, there is no sign of good management, of the sort that would quickly put a stop to the sadism which is not only brutal, but counterproductive to the economic mission of the operation,” Rollin continued. (See the rest of his remarks.)
Rollin goes on to chide a rabbi shown in the video for incorrectly performing a ritual slaughter intended to ordain the meat as kosher. The rabbi violates Jewish law, according to Rollin, who adds that the incompetence he witnessed “makes me ashamed of coming from the Jewish tradition.”
You can see the video on You Tube. It should not be viewed by children, or anyone, save for those who need convincing.
If you must watch, skip to 1:50 and watch until 2:20, as the HSUS undercover investigator and truck driver discuss a downer calf that cannot get up because it suffered a broken leg, apparently enroute to the slaughter house. The worker (and undercover HSUS investigator) tells the truckdriver the calf has a broken leg and cannot get up.
The truckdriver replies that “he just wants to play lazy now.”