The American Association of Bovine Practitioners has issued a statement condemning abusive practices at a Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse where employees were secretly videotaped dragging downer cows, rolling them with forklifts, and using electric cattle prods and high-intensity water hoses to make the animals stand.
"The American Association of Bovine Practitioners represents 5,000 beef and dairy veterinarians from across the United States and Canada," the AABP said in the statement released Feb. 6. "The images seen in the videos from the California slaughter facility are deplorable.
"The AABP Principles of Animal Welfare clearly state that abuse of animals is not acceptable under any circumstances. Our profession strongly promotes proper care and handling practices for livestock, and abuses seen in this situation cannot be tolerated."
On Feb. 4, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service suspended inspections at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. on the basis of the facility's "clear violation of federal regulations and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act."
The suspension will remain in effect and the facility will not be allowed to operate until written corrective actions are submitted and verified by the FSIS to ensure that animals are humanely handled, the agency said.
Hallmark/Westland is one of the largest beef suppliers to the USDA. The government has indefinitely suspended the company's participation in a number of federal food and nutrition initiatives, including the National School Lunch Program and Emergency Food Assistance Program.
An employee of the Humane Society of the United States working undercover at the facility recorded the abuses in fall 2007, and the HSUS released the video Jan. 30. The AVMA's response to the incident may be accessed on the AVMA Web site (www.avma.org) in the "Press Room."