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January 30, 2008

Torture on Tape

In 2007, the term "waterboarding" entered into the American lexicon. I never thought that knowledge of the practice would inspire animal abusers, but that's exactly what's happened.

An HSUS investigation we revealed today—as reported in The Washington Post—focused on the abuse of downed cows, unable to stand or walk, at a Chino, Calif. slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse was a magnet plant for downer cast-aways from the dairy industry in the Southwest, even though California law and federal law bar with very limited exceptions the slaughter of downers.

The footage that we obtained revealed that the plant manager at the slaughterhouse viewed the cows as dollars on the hoof, and he didn't want to let a single animal not be utilized.

The result was that animals who were down and nearly lifeless were subjected to appalling acts of cruelty—repeated hot shots (electric shocks, including in the anus and the eye), tail twisting, shackling and dragging, ramming with forklifts, and, yes, even high-pressure water hosing in the mouth and nose to simulate drowning—right out of the waterboarding manual we heard about last year at Guantanamo Bay. The employees made the cows suffer so much that some of the sick and injured animals would rise and walk on their own.

These cows were guilty of nothing, and did not deserve this torment.

California prosecutors should arrest the miscreants at this plant. And the USDA needs to grab its inspectors who oversaw this plant by the Adam's apple and say never again. And while the USDA is at it, it must tighten its federal rule barring downers. The rule has a loophole that allows the slaughtering of downed animals on a case-by-case basis if they go down after they pass antemortem inspection. This rule contributes to the torment that we saw at the plant in Chino. Vicious managers will poke, shock, prod, shackle, slam, and even drown animals to get them moving, if they see an opening in the law. All downed animals should be immediately euthanized, not tormented further.

Take a look at the footage, and let the USDA know how appalled you are.

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