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February 07, 2011

Pressing Forward to Protect Calves from Abuse

Soon after our undercover investigation exposed shocking cruelty to baby veal calves at a Vermont slaughterhouse in 2009, The HSUS petitioned the federal government to strengthen rules to help prevent abuses like these.

Dairy calves at Vermont slaughterhouse
Tell the USDA this cruelty is unacceptable.

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture tentatively granted our request to require that downed veal calves — animals too sick or injured to walk on their own — be humanely and promptly euthanized, rather than dragged, tormented and otherwise abused to get them to the slaughter area. [Editor's note: Please submit your comments here.]

We’re glad to see the USDA stepping up to close this loophole to protect calves. The agency toughened its rules for adult downer cattle in 2009, in part due to our Hallmark investigation that brought a national spotlight to the mistreatment of downed dairy cows shocked with electric prods, kicked and dragged.

The downed calf rule is among several recent changes by the USDA to improve oversight of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, including appointing an ombudsman to oversee humane handling issues and instituting new training for inspectors.

Our undercover investigators have found disturbing conduct and images almost everywhere they’ve looked within factory farms and slaughter plants throughout America. Reforms are needed, and in the case of downer veal calves, USDA has the right policy response in mind. It’s the meat industry’s responsibility to prevent these sorts of reckless abuses, but when its leaders and plant managers fail, we’ll be prepared to call cruelty by its name when we see it.

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