USA: Vermont Slaughterhouse Ordered Closed After Video Showed Calves Kicked, Shocked and Cut While Conscious







A Vermont slaughterhouse ordered closed after video showed calves kicked, shocked and cut while conscious had its operating license suspended three times earlier this year for similar conduct.  U.S. Department of Agriculture records show Bushway Packing Inc. of Grand Isle, which was ordered closed Friday, was shut down for a day in May, again in June and again in July after an inspector cited it for inhumane treatment of animals. 

The revelation came Monday as the Humane Society of the United States released more video footage taken with a hidden camera this summer.

The video shows days-old male calves culled from dairy herds being dragged, kicked, repeatedly shocked with electric prods and apparently cut while still conscious. “We found even two calves who appeared to be skinned alive while they were still conscious,” said Michael Markarian, the Humane Society’s chief operating officer.
Inspector’s behavior scrutinized

The video also appeared to back up a Friday statement in which U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described the conduct of a USDA inspector at the slaughterhouse as “inexcusable.” It showed an unidentified inspector appearing to coach a plant worker on how to avoid being shut down by another inspector and failing to stop an animal being cut while awake. A call to the slaughterhouse on Monday was not immediately returned, nor was a call to a Ronald Bushway listed in Grand Isle.

USDA spokesman Caleb Weaver said Monday he could not comment on the inspector’s conduct because it was a personnel matter. Markarian said it appeared several calves were abused because they would not or could not stand up to be prepared for slaughter. The slaughterhouse specialized in “bob veal” — meat from days-old calves that ends up in hot dogs and lunch meats. Meat sold as veal usually come from animals raised to about 4 months old.

Certified organic producer Some in the Vermont dairy industry said they worried the revelations would give an enterprise generally viewed as wholesome a black eye. Bushway Packing was certified as an organic processor, raising extra concern in that sector.

“That’s not right, that’s really nasty,” said Paul Stecker, an organic dairy farmer from Cabot, after watching the video on the Humane Society’s Web site. “I wouldn’t be in this business if that’s the way it was. That’s not the norm, I can tell you that.” Stecker said the slaughterhouse’s problems also would bring attention to an aspect of dairying most farmers don’t like or talk about much:

The vast majority of male calves born on dairy farms face very short lives. “That kind of thing hurts us all, like our industry really needed that,” he said. Dairy farmers nationwide have been struggling as a global milk glut has resulted in dramatically lower prices for their milk. The Humane Society said it would propose tighter rules for the meatpacking and related industries, including a requirement that male calves born on dairy farms be kept there until they are 10 days old to ensure they are strong enough to travel.  Kelly Loftus, a spokeswoman for the state Agency of Agriculture, said she expected there would be strong opposition to such a measure.

“There are labor costs involved. There are feeding costs involved,” she said. With the current crisis in dairy farming, “any extra expense could mean that a farm has to close.”  Nicole Dehne of Vermont Organic Farmers, a group that certifies Vermont farms as organic under an agreement with the USDA, said the group’s national counterpart is meeting in Washington this week and will discuss humane treatment of farm animals. Organic rules now are geared mainly toward ensuring meat labeled organic comes from animals raised without hormones or chemicals.

“I think consumers expect organic regulations to cover all aspects of animal welfare, including slaughter and transportation,” Dehne said. “If we need to tighten the regulations in regard to processing facilities, and come up with guidelines to address more humane transportation, I think we would respond to the expectations of the organic consumer.”

Jamaica: Can You Help With A Donation to the Excellent ‘Animal House’ ?






For the first time this year The Animal House Jamaica are facing a temporary, but serious, funding shortfall for the next three weeks. They have an online auction with some great items scheduled for the end of November and are expecting funds in December, but as of next week they have no money at all.  At any given time they care for over 150 of Jamaica’s once-forgotten animals and as I think you know they have had the added challenge this year of no running water.


Please help The Animal House Jamaica through the next three weeks by cross-posting this appeal to all your contacts and if you are able to please consider making a donation to this wonderful organisation. There is no donation that is too small !



Spain: Further Update 04/11/09 – Donkey Charity (Uk / Spain) Now Plans Full Legal Action Against Donkey Abusing Sick in the Head Thugs








04 November 2009, 2.30pm  News release issued by El Refugio Del Burrito’s Press Office

donkey tortured

A donkey has been brutally murdered by teenagers in the village of Torreorgaz in the Spanish region of Extremadura.  The news has shocked the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary and its Spanish counterpart now plans to take full legal action against the culprits.

El Refugio del Burrito, based in Fuente de Piedra is a Spanish registered charity, and part of the UK-based Donkey Sanctuary, dedicated to the care and protection of donkeys and mules.  

Staff at the refuge were devastated to hear how a 20-year old female donkey died in the early hours of Saturday 31st October after being repeatedly kicked, and more disturbingly for having objects inserted into its bodily orifices causing great internal damage, which then led to a fatal heart attack.

Ivan Salvia, General Manager at El Refugio Del Burrito says: “This cruel act is incomprehensible and we hope to find justice for the poor donkey concerned.  The owner is just as devastated as we are.”

El Refugio del Burrito now plans to lodge an official condemnation to the local government of Extremadura to start the legal proceedings.  The charity also hopes to gather support from the general public to campaign for animal protection laws to be fully enforced in future.

To support El Refugio del Burrito in their campaign, please visit



·      The Donkey Sanctuary aims to protect donkeys and mules and promote their welfare worldwide.  The charity was founded by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, MBE in 1969 and has taken into its care over 13,600 donkeys in the UK, Ireland and other parts of Europe.  It currently works in 18 countries around the world, including the Sanctuary’s core overseas projects in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Mexico – bringing veterinary assistance to thousands of working donkeys.   The charity relies entirely on donations to continue its vital work worldwide.  For further information telephone: 01395 578222 or visit:

·       The Donkey Sanctuary has a connected charity, The Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys, where fit and healthy donkeys provide riding therapy to children with special needs at purpose built centres located throughout the country.  For further information visit: