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Efforts to Close “Painful” Loophole in Animal Slaughter Regs

PHOTO: This photo of a downer calf is part of an undercover investigation of a veal slaughter plant in Shrewsbury, N.J. Photo courtesy Humane Society of the United States.
PHOTO: This photo of a downer calf is part of an undercover investigation of a veal slaughter plant in Shrewsbury, N.J. Photo courtesy Humane Society of the United States.
May 16, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Some see it as a painful loophole in animal slaughter regulations.

It affects so-called downer calves – cattle that are on the ground and can't get up.

Paul Shapiro, vice president for Farm Animal Protection with the Humane Society of the United States, says federal law currently prohibits the slaughter for food of adult cattle that are too sick, injured or weak to stand on their own.

But a loophole in the law does not protect younger, veal calves in the same situations.

"There needs to be a federal rule that would ensure that slaughter plants across the country are operating by some very basic rules of the road that are designed to prevent torture of animals," Shapiro says.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin of Michigan are among a dozen U.S. senators calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close the loophole and prevent the slaughter of downer calves for food.

Shapiro says his group in undercover investigations recently documented inhumane treatment of downer calves.

One documented conditions at a veal slaughter plant in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

"And what we documented on hidden camera were animals who were too sick or injured or tired, even to stand up and walk to their own slaughter,” Shapiro says, “being dragged with chains, being prodded.

“It was a real house of horrors for these calves."

Shapiro says the senators have pointed out in a joint letter to the USDA that it has been four years since the Humane Society requested what the it believes is common sense legislation, but to date, the USDA has not even offered a proposed rule.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI