The controversial animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter on Monday to U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady in which they asked him to investigate the Jan. 27 slaughter of a cow at a Johnstown-area butcher shop.
Colin Henstock, assistant manager of investigations for PETA, alleged in the letter to Brady that employees of Pudliner Packing, 167 Norton Road, violated the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.”
Ed Pudliner, co-owner of Pudliner Packing, explained on Monday that regulations permit employees to shoot animals no more than twice in order to render them insensible before slaughter. In the Jan. 27 incident referenced by Henstock in the letter to Brady, he said, an employee shot the cow in question twice, then fired a third time after the animal “groaned a little bit.”
“She wasn’t hit or beat or nothing,” he said of the cow. “It didn’t seem like it was a big thing.”
The incident was reportedly witnessed by an inspector from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Lynda E. Lilyestrom, manager of the FSIS Philadelphia district office, called the incident an “egregious humane handling incident” in a Jan. 27 letter to Andrew Pudliner, president of Pudliner Packing, a copy of which was posted on the FSIS website.
“Establishment personnel stunned a Holstein dairy cow in the stunning area with a firearm, then proceeded to winch it into the area to be shackled and hoisted,” Lilyestrom wrote.
“While the bovine was hanging on the rail, the (inspector) was able to determine that the animal was not insensible as it was vocalizing loudly and looking around. The establishment employee ignored the vocalization and continued to hang the bovine, then made the bleeding cut on a conscious animal. Shortly after the bleeding cut, the animal lost sensibility. After the bovine was skinned out, three holes were observed in the cranium.”
Lilyestrom notified Pudliner Packing in her Jan. 27 letter of the suspension of the assignment of inspectors to the facility. That suspension was lifted a few days later after Andrew Pudliner submitted a list of measures taken to correct the problem and prevent it from recurring.
In his letter to Brady, Henstock referenced two previous incidents witnessed by FSIS inspectors at Pudliner Packing in which it reportedly took three shots to stun an animal – a cow on June 26, 2019, and a pig on July 31, 2018.