Animal-rights activists are seeking a police investigation into a slaughterhouse incident at SUNY Cobleskill in late September.
PETA––People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals––bases its charge on a federal report that it took three tries to stun a steer into unconsciousness, and the animal suffered unnecessarily.
In response, the college said it follows US Department of Agriculture procedures and will work with USDA on corrective measures.
A USDA inspector was at the college’s Meat & Fisheries Processing Lab on September 21 and reported that “the steer was restrained in a head restraint and a student attempted to stun the steer with a hand held captive bolt.
“The captive bolt was discharged on the steer’s head, but the steer remained standing and alert. A second captive bolt was immediately applied to the steer’s head, however, the steer remained standing and alert.”
The third attempt rendered the steer unconscious.
“These disturbing revelations show that this steer suffered a prolonged, agonizing death at SUNY Cobleskill,” PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch said in an email.
PETA sent a letter to Thomas Rehberg, chief of SUNY Cobleskill’s University Police asking that he investigate and “file suitable criminal charges” against the lab and whoever shot the steer.
“Firing multiple shots into an animals head is unacceptable,” Colin Henstock, PETA investigation specialist, said in a telephone interview.
“We’re hoping for some small measure of justice for this steer.”
Contacted Friday, Chief Rehberg referred questions to college spokesman Jim Feldman, who said that the lab is USDA certified and the incident occurred during a class.
“The facility serves as a hands-on teaching laboratory for students in a ‘real world’ environment for processing meat under the supervision of laboratory staff,” Mr. Feldman wrote in an email.
He added that “PETA is requesting that our facility be charged with violation of a law that does not apply to our meat processing operation.”
In a September 21 statement, the USDA said it has the authority to suspend slaughterhouse operations at a facility that doesn’t follow the Humane Methods of Slaughtering Act.
However, the USDA said in a September 26 follow-up that it was deferring action as long as the college increase training of the stun gun procedure, mark the head of cattle so that students see where to place the gun and monitor the use of the stun gun through a 90-day period.