When the Regulators Refuse to Regulate: Pervasive USDA Underenforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act
Citation: 104 Geo L.J. 197 (2015)
We are in a small slaughterhouse seventy-five miles from Minneapolis. A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector’s report captures the scene: A slaughter plant manager slit a cow’s throat, but the animal did not die. The plant manager was legally required to shoot her again, but instead he electrocuted her with a shock prod, over and over, trying to get her to leave the stun box, where she was trapped with another cow in a space intended to hold just one animal.
Because the gate to the stun box was partially down, the cow’s escape was a “physical impossibility,” but that did not stop the plant manager from trying. The cow’s screaming drew a crowd, including two USDA inspectors, but their presence did not deter the plant manager from continuing to repeatedly electrocute this poor animal. The electric shocks were tormenting, and so the cow tried to cram her body through the gate. Because this was impossible, her “hide [was] peeled back . . . and there was blood and hair throughout the wound, as well as blood and hair on the lift gate.” The entire ordeal lasted fifteen minutes. . . .