The footage is both excruciating and infuriating to watch. It’s not much different than watching the torture of puppies or kittens, and it should make every livestock producer boiling angry.
Shot over a three-week period last summer by an undercover HSUS operative hired as a floor cleaner at the Bushway Packing House in Grand Isle, VT, a veal plant, the video depicts days-old dairy (bob veal) calves being dragged, kicked, shocked and cut by workers; it even includes someone identified as an inspection official instructing the abusers on how to avoid regulatory censure. If you can stomach it, you can see the video at www.hsus.org/farm/news.
Bushway was closed by federal officials last Friday following the release of the undercover video. In response to the video, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said:
"The deplorable scenes recorded in the video released by the Humane Society of the U.S. are unequivocally unacceptable. The callous behavior and attitudes displayed in the video clearly appear to be violations of USDA's humane handling regulations.
“USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is investigating these alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). FSIS took immediate action with respect to its employee and the establishment upon preliminary verification of the incident. The Department fully supports the investigation of all those involved in these alleged violations of the HMSA. To this end, I have also called on our Inspector General to conduct a criminal investigation of the events in the video.
"FSIS has a rigorous program to train inspection personnel in verifying humane handling and slaughter at establishments. When an FSIS employee observes behaviors that are not in compliance with the HMSA, they are obligated to take immediate action. The behavior of FSIS and establishment personnel witnessed in this video is inexcusable."
I would also consider it inexcusable that HSUS documented this type of reprehensible animal treatment (which I can’t believe is representative of the U.S. veal industry) and chose to wait two months or more to notify officials in order to maximize the story’s sensationalism. In a plant that is obviously this badly run, how many other animals needlessly suffered because of HSUS’s headline-chasing antics? There’s a lot of shame to go around on this one.