Managing downer animals' bill reintroduced

January 2012

By Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director of the AVMA GRD

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) has introduced H.R. 3703, the Downed Animal and Food Safety Act, that amends the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to require that all non-ambulatory livestock in interstate and foreign commerce be immediately and humanely euthanized when such livestock become non-ambulatory. The bill also spells out labeling requirements and penalties for violations.

The AVMA has been opposed to similar legislation in the past because wording included in previous legislation conflicted with the AVMA policy on Disabled Livestock, which states, "Animals that are down should be euthanatized immediately and not taken to slaughter. However, if swine are down, and are not in extreme distress or do not have an obviously irreversible condition, they may be allowed up to 2 hours to recover."

H.R. 3704 does not currently include such an exemption for non-ambulatory swine. The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has released multiple directives on non-ambulatory livestock and humane handling. 

For more information please contact Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division.

The AVMA Advocate - News Bites - January 2012