Unfortunately, allegations of animal abuse at slaughterhouses have long been prevalent. It is not, however, too often that you hear of a farm or company being punished for such cruel behavior. Recently, an organically certified Vermont slaughterhouse called Bushway Packing Inc. was ordered to close because of their inhumane treatment of calves. An undercover agent for the Humane Society of the United States captured various forms of animal abuse at this slaughterhouse on video. According to the humane society, slaughterhouse employees were kicking calves, electrically prodding them, wetting them with water so that electric prodding would be more painful, improperly rendering them senseless before slaughter, and even skinning them alive. These are typical abuse allegations against slaughterhouses commonly made by animal welfarist and rights advocates that are all too often ignored.
The calves processed at Bushway Packing were born on dairy farms and immediately torn from their mothers so that the mother’s milk would not be wasted on them. This rendered many of them weak and unable to walk. They were then physically abused into standing and walking so that employees can avoid prohibitions on slaughtering “downed cows.” These calves were being produced as “bob veal,” where they were killed when less than a week old to be used in food items such as hot dogs and lunch meats, unlike regular veal production which “harvests” calves at around 4 months of age. Keep in mind that supporting the dairy industry is, in a way, supporting the veal and bob veal industries because of the need to take calves away from their dairy cow mothers so that all their mother’s milk can be processed for human use. Male calves are a byproduct of the dairy industry and are thus put to use in the veal industry. For this very reason, dairy farmers were greatly worried about their financial stability in the wake of this story.
It is important, once again, to point out the fact that Bushway Packing was a certified organic facility. Consumers who buy organic meats tend to associate that label with more humane treatment. They often envision that the meat is coming from an animal who has lived a happy (albeit short in the case of veal) life on a mom-and-pop farm with sunny green pastures where the animals can roam and play. This however, is not the case. The designation as organic only means that the animals were raised without hormones or chemicals. A representative from Vermont Organic Farmers correctly pointed this distinction out and acknowledged that there could be a need to amend regulations to account for this.
The abuse employees subjected these extremely young calves to is completely inhumane and unacceptable. Not to mention the fact that the slaughtering techniques violate the Humane Slaughter Act, in that there were certainly calves that were not rendered insensible to pain when killed. Despite the fact that this company was cited three times in six months for mistreating animals, it was not shut down until the Humane Society released its video footage and there were debates over whether the State or the Federal Government had the authority and duty to oversee operations at the slaughterhouse. The owner of the company said that the decision to close the plant surprised him because the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted routine inspections. This is a prime example of how the limited laws protecting farm animals are often not properly enforced and the animals are left to suffer. This story will hopefully lead the overseeing agencies to realize how important it is to regulate slaughterhouses properly and to crack down on animal abuse. Hopefully the public will also awaken in response to this video and make more informed and caring choices when deciding what to eat.
Filed under: animal cruelty, animal law, animal welfare, factory farms | Tagged: animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal law, animal slaughter, animal suffering, animal welfare, bob veal, Bushway Packing, dairy farms, factory farms, farmed animals, industrial farming, organic certification, organic slaughterhouse, veal calves, Vermont |