Shocking news has broken today, Wednesday, January 30, in the Washington Post. HSUS has just done a press conference on the issue so it may soon also be on your local TV station or in your paper. Thank heavens it is making news. The Washington Post article, by Rick Weiss, p A04, is headed, "Video Reveals Violations of Laws, Abuse of Cows at Slaughterhouse."
Video footage being released today shows workers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the 'downer' cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals' noses -- all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.
"Moreover, the companies where these practices allegedly occurred are major suppliers of meat for the nation's school lunch programs, including in Maryland, according to a company official and federal documents.
"The footage was taken by an undercover investigator for an animal welfare group, who wore a customized video camera under his clothes while working at the facility last year. It is evidence that anti-cruelty and food safety rules are inadequate, and that Agriculture Department inspection and enforcement need to be enhanced, said officials with the Humane Society of the United States, which coordinated the project.
"'These were not rogue employees secretly doing these things,' the investigator said in a telephone interview on the condition of anonymity because he hopes to infiltrate other slaughterhouses. 'This is the pen manager and his assistant doing this right in the open.'"
The meat packing company's operations manager said it was "impossible" that electric prods were used as
"electrical prods are not allowed on the property." He said that he couldn't imagine forklifts being used to move animals, and that it was "absolutely untrue" that water was sprayed up collapsed animals' noses to get them to move. And he boasted about the plant's "massive humane treatment program."
But the Washington Post article tells us, "Video images show those activities, as well as a trailer with Hallmark's name on it."
"In the video, handlers repeatedly apply powerful shocks to the heads, necks, spines and rectums of immobile cows."
"'They wanted to do whatever they could to get them into the kill box, including jabbing them in the eye, slamming into them with a forklift and simulating drowning or waterboarding the animals,' Pacelle said -- all practices that can be seen in the video."
As for USDA inspections, we read:
"The investigator said a USDA inspector appeared twice a day, at 6:30 a.m. and about 12:30 p.m., to look at each cow to be slaughtered that day. The practices occurred before the inspector's appearance, he said, with the goal of getting the animals on their feet for the short time the inspector was there.
"'Every day, I would see downed cattle too sick or injured to stand or walk arriving at the slaughterhouse,' he said. 'Workers would do anything to get the cows to stand on their feet.'"
The web version of the Washington Post article includes a link to some of that video. Check out the full article at http://tinyurl.com/27yyck and if you have the stomach for it, watch the video. If you currently eat beef or drink cow's milk (it is a dairy cow slaughter plant) then I urge you to find the stomach; I urge you using Gretchen Wyler's favorite line, "We must not fail to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies."
Please send a letter to the editor thanking the Washington Post for this wonderful coverage. As the HSUS video, but not the Post article, notes that we are watching dairy cows, your letter might address some of the issues around drinking cows' milk.
The Washington Post takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org . The paper advises, "Please do not send attachments; they will not be read. Letters must be exclusive to The Washington Post, and must include the writer's home address and home and business telephone numbers."
If your local station runs the story, please send a thank you there, and please let me know.
I send multi-thanks to all the people who made sure we saw this Washington Post story.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)
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Date: Wed Jan 30 15:00:23 2008