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October 25, 2010

Relief for Abused Calves: Remembering An Investigation and Those Behind It

This Saturday, Oct. 30, it will be one year since The HSUS’s investigation into the Bushway calf slaughter plant shuttered this Grand Isle, Vt. facility where so many baby cows suffered cruelty that can only be believed if one sees it on our video—extreme electrical shocks, kicking, dragging, and even, heaven help us, calves being skinned alive.

Looking back on the Bushway investigation and others that have pushed animal protection efforts forward, I’m grateful for many things, not the least of which is the loyal support we receive from you. Today, I’d like to pause for a moment to thank all of those who play a part in putting these heartbreaking cases together.

HSUS undercover investigation documents shocking abuse of veal calves
The HSUS

First, we have to thank the courageous whistleblower who alerted us to the cruelty at Bushway—Dr. Dean Wyatt, a government inspector who refused to give up on obtaining some measure of justice for the newborn male calves who were routinely mistreated before slaughter. Dr. Wyatt’s health suffered as he witnessed and tried to stop the beatings the calves took every time they arrived at Bushway. Much to our sorrow, Dr. Wyatt is now suffering from brain cancer and our hearts and thoughts are with him as he battles again—this time to save his own life.

I thank the investigator who looked into the face of cruelty every day for weeks and documented it. Who among us could stand to bear witness to these acts, knowing that such callousness must be documented in order to be believed by those who can stop it? I have heard over and over from people who say “I could never be an investigator,” and I have said it myself. It takes guts to work on a kill floor or in a factory farm, but our investigators make it through their tough times by knowing that The HSUS will be there to take their evidence and get something done with it.

The Bushway case is just one of many that involve numerous departments within the organization—our savvy Government Affairs staff, our tireless Cruelty and Campaigns workers, the attorneys on our incredible Animal Protection Litigation team, and our talented Video and Communications departments. They all played their parts not only in prompting the USDA and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to close down Bushway, but also in working toward a systemic solution to stop this sort of cruel treatment at slaughter plants—a petition with the USDA to close a loophole that had allowed calves too weak, sick, or injured to be “assisted” to their slaughter; Congressional hearings where Dr. Wyatt and I testified in March 2010; and dealings with the Vermont Attorney General’s office that resulted in cruelty charges filed against one of Bushway’s owners and one barn worker.

Our dedicated staff is, in large part, unknown to our members and to the general public, but they are here, working every day with determination and doing innovative work for the animals. Your continued and increased support will help us carry on.

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