Talk Back: Calls for Reform

By on February 28, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

I am heading over to Capitol Hill now to testify at a U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing, which was called to discuss the recent HSUS investigation into cruelty to downed dairy cows at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., the subsequent beef recall, and USDA oversight issues (to watch a live broadcast of the hearing, click here). These concerns aren’t only on the minds of Congress members. Readers continue to voice their outrage, and here are just some of the comments we’ve received over the last few days:

Why didn’t the USDA catch this? Isn’t this their job—not The HSUS? They should be held accountable as well. Who knows how long this has been going on. —Kathryn Dennis

I cannot agree with you more. I found the USDA spokesperson’s comments deplorable. And the secretary is "dismayed"? We don’t pay him for that—we pay him and all the other staff at the USDA to do their jobs. The only reason the USDA is investigating is because of your video—it is clear that their full-time inspector at this plant was grossly negligent. Those poor animals. —Vijaya Ramachandran

I am glad the two employees are being prosecuted; however, I think others in management must be guilty. I don’t think the two would have tried so hard to move the "downers" if it wasn’t an unwritten policy at the slaughterhouse. I suspect this behavior is common practice at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. and at many other slaughterhouses too. —Barbara Hughes

Congratulations to the Humane Society for exposing this terrible situation! I am so saddened by this story, and I hope that the workers who are guilty of this crime get the maximum punishment allowable. I am not too pleased with Westland/Hallmark’s feeble response…"shocked and horrified?" He was the president of the company and it is his JOB to know what’s going on in that facility! No excuses! I think he needs to be held accountable for this outrage. —Dana

I have worked in a USDA-regulated plant before (no live animals on the premises, though) and conditions were the same as in this video. All workers are notified of upcoming inspections and to be on their best behavior. As soon as the inspector left, it was back to the usual (poor) business practices of cutting corners, not following safety and sanitary procedures, etc. It makes me sick that people have such disregard not only for necessary regulations, but also for lives that may be affected—animal or human. —Liz

In an LA Times article Feb. 20, 2008, by Victoria Kim, USDA floor inspectors claim that they are routinely outwitted by slaughterhouse workers. As one inspector puts it, "If I’m tied on the slaughter line, the company can run amok". What an excuse! We are in the 21st century. The USDA should rethink how to inspect these slaughterhouses. They should require them to install cameras that are turned on at all times to monitor all aspects of the slaughter process. Police are required to have such cameras to monitor their actions during arrests and interrogations. Why not requiring the same from slaughterhouses? This will circumvent the problem of "not enough inspectors." Please forward this suggestion to the USDA. —Moktar Salama

"For four months they [HSUS] sat on that information," he told CNN yesterday. Secretary Ed Schafer keeps saying that because the truth is, the slaughterhouse and the USDA are guilty! It is just their way to put the blame somewhere else. The blame belongs on the slaughterhouse as well as the USDA. Their regulations are not enforced and they know it. They don’t care! Why can’t they take responsibility? Why can’t they thank The HSUS for bringing this to light? Now is the time for the USDA to make some big changes within their organization pertaining to slaughterhouses and how the facilities they regulate treat the animals. Thank you HSUS! —Dana in Chicago

What a shame the USDA went on the offensive against Wayne and The HSUS rather than looking in the mirror and realizing the problem is with themselves. —Brian

I hate the “few bad apples” argument that’s trotted out so frequently by groups caught in the act. There are apparently a LOT of bad apples. Slaughterhouse abuses are all too frequent and it is obvious that there is either A) a lack of oversight, B) an avoidance of dealing with the abuses, or C) both. I think that average U.S. citizens are appalled by that kind of cruelty and they’re ready to implement better standards and welfare for animals. —Sara N

I would like to thank The HSUS for uncovering what occurred at the Hallmark plant. I was angered when I heard that this incident was being considered an aberration. Furthermore, I found the comment made by the Cattleman’s Association laughable, and an affront to any thinking person. —Fabiano Muner

I am so grateful that The HSUS has brought this unthinkable cruelty to the awareness of the public. It is really unfortunate that the new Secretary of Agriculture Mr. Schafer is more focused on defending the USDA than coming up with an action plan to prevent these atrocities in the future. What is even more appalling is the way Secretary Schafer feels the need to criticize the Humane Society. I just hope this negative exposure results in some major changes in the meat industry. Although I am a vegetarian and do not advocate eating animals for food, I am realistic and realize that animals will probably always be a source of food for human beings. The best I can hope for is that they are treated humanely from the time they are born through their last day on this earth. It is the least we can do in return for the sacrifice these animals make. —Tina

I’m convinced that the USDA will never take food safety and animal welfare seriously. The agribusiness establishment will always win—that’s why I became a vegetarian. —Cynthia Long

I grew up on a farm in the U.K. where we raised animals who were humanely raised and treated. As a farmer you are fully aware of the physical condition prior to culling. Pure greed drives this practice of sending all animals to slaughter. These animals should have never been sent to the slaughterhouse in the first place. There should be an investigation into the farmers who sent them, and prosecution against Westland for accepting them. The same thing happened in the U.K., with devastating short term results—mad cow. We were forced to destroy our herds because of the practices of agribusiness. We had and still have a hard time reestablishing the trust of consumers. —Jeremy Bartlett

The video made me sick. I can’t imagine that human beings could be so cruel and I’m glad they are being prosecuted. We need better and regular inspections at these places and there should always be video cameras on these workers. The poor cows were ill and should have been put out of their misery in a humane manner. I really don’t feel like eating or purchasing any more beef after seeing how these animals were treated. —Mary Cowman

The HSUS is a winner. A note of thanks to you all. This is a heartbreaker of a story that no one ever hears about. I think The HSUS needs to push for lawmakers to award the fines paid by violators to The HSUS when it aids in the successful prosecution of crimes such as the Hallmark case. It is clear the government isn’t capable to police its employees or enforce the law, so why not reward those who uncover and prosecute violations such as this. It’s the worst of the worst, and very sad. Great job, keep up the good work. —Brian Morford

Congratulations on a job well done. Animal abuse must not be tolerated in any situation. Your exposure of this evil practice and the meat company’s lack of concern for the welfare of Americans should put others on notice. They will be uncovered. Thank you for your fine work! —Sharon

I stumbled across this story on the BBC news website and was absolutely disgusted at what I read. As a member of the RSPCA, the British equivalent of The HSUS, I was shocked but sadly not surprised at the level of inhumanity given to animals in slaughterhouses. This is one of many areas where greed and profits are constantly put above the welfare of animals. Thank you (HSUS) for having the courage to go undercover to get the evidence required to bring these large corporations to justice. Unfortunately this is only one of many and there is so much more work to be done. —Helen Warner Bracknell, Berkshire, U.K.

Fallout from the investigation and expected to permanently shutdown
Management from Hallmark/Westland walked away with a frown
Exposure was key and it was long overdue
Many abuses occurred it wasn’t a few
The nation’s food safety system we must overhaul
Corrective action is needed please don’t let it stall
Outraged was the public when this situation came unto light
If you’re concerned about the food supply please stand up and fight —CB

Farm Animals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.